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Pieces of the Past: Rockin’ Warren in the 60s

July 12, 2023

If you go across the Veterans Bridge southward and turn left there is an empty lot slightly to your right. Most recently, a sports card shop was there.

A devastating fire destroyed the building at least 10 years ago. Ninety percent of my readers don’t recognize the significance of that locale. I remember a time when I’d simply stand out front and admire what was on display in the window. Bandmaster, Bassman, Dual Showman. There were “Strats,” “Telecasters,” “Precision and Jazz Basses.”

For a kid in a rock band it was heaven. It was Al Lucia’s music shop.

Al was the local FENDER dealer. He saw the music industry was changing. Trumpets were being replaced by guitars. Bands were coming to Lucia for everything they needed. He sold the bands I was in on being loyal to the brands he sold.

Leo Fender was actually an electronics genius; he never played guitar. He listened to musicians and started designing guitars based on what he was told. His original vocation was repairing radios back in the mid 1900s. It wasn’t until the mid 40s that he sold his first solid body guitar. Amplifiers would follow.

Al Lucia would let bands like mine come in his store, set up and play. It didn’t take long before we were hooked. Al was an unassuming little guy. Balding and round, low to the ground. Despite the fact he was much older than us, he trusted us. The bank wouldn’t let us buy on credit but Al did.

In the 60s and early 70s Biekark’s House of Music was the “other” music store in town. Rex and John Biekark ran a more traditional music store. They catered to school bands. Biekark’s was located in the 400 block of Pennsylvania Ave, next to Cunningham’s restaurant. They sold me my first P.A. system. A used Fender Bassman.

I remember listening to John calling my Dad to get his assurance the bill would be paid. I paid the agreed amount off early and established a good line of credit at both Biekark’s and Lucia’s.

Al Lucia passed away, John Biekark sold to Germain and Popolardo from Jamestown. Doug Wood had been managing the Warren store on Conewango Avenue and bought it. Wood’s Music shop did things like Al Lucia did. Loyal customers became internet buyers and Wood’s Music Shop became another Piece of the Past.

London Dock back in 1967 was made up of Jim Crozier, Gary and Bob Graham Dave Seaqua (I spelled it like it was pronounced) Dan Pearce and me. All our amps and most of our instruments came from Al Lucia

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