By , on February 16, 2010

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The 1967 Vox Guitar Organ incorporated a miniature transistorized organ.

The 1967 Vox Guitar Organ incorporated a miniature transistorized organ.

During my 1989-2000 tenure at Epic Records/Sony Music, one of the nicer people I worked with was Epic VP of Marketing Al Masocco.

Our offices were on opposite coasts (me in NY, Al in LA) so I didn’t get to know him as well as I might have. But Al always seemed to be throwing himself into one marketing campaign or another, and usually had some complicated, hair-raising tale to tell, whether it was about gaining the co-operation of the Tragnew Park Compton Crips for an MC Eiht video shoot in South Central or negotiating with wary officials of the Cuban government to stage and film an Audioslave concert in Havana.

Al Masocco was (and still is) a completely unpretentious person who never seemed to care if anybody else — Spin, Rolling Stone, some joker at KCRW or MTV — thought his acts were “cool” or “hip.” With his boundless enthusiasm and non-stop chatter, Al struck me as a throwback to the even-older-school record biz guys of the Fifties and early Sixties. He understood implicitly that his job was not to sign, style, or song-doctor his acts but to sell the shit out of them, which is exactly what he did, day in and day out.

After a long stint at Epic/Sony and a shorter one with mega-management company The Firm, Al founded his own marketing venture Pulsebeat. He also established himself as a campus motivational/professional speaker, and I can attest that anyone who pays Al Masocco to talk will get more — much more — than their money’s worth.

1984 Kawai "Moon Sault," a Japanese rarity.

The Kawai "Moon Sault," a Japanese rarity from 1984.

I know that Al is a major rock memorabilia collector, especially of Beatles material, although as yet I haven’t had the pleasure of touring his closely guarded holdings. But until we spoke last month, I didn’t know he’d also amassed a collection of 140+ electric guitars, basses, and miscellaneous stringed instruments. It includes some very odd- and/or cool-looking instruments by manufacturers like Wurlitzer, Hayman, Kawai, Supro, Teisco, and Dwight — see sample photos posted on this page.

Al is now renting out these axes for film, TV, video, and still photo shoots. Guitar freaks and even some, er, regular people will enjoy the slide show — complete with a “Super Riff Medley” soundtrack — that he’s created for Pulsebeat Guitars.



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