Don Randall, Fender Sales via Syd Heller to Jimmy Raney (1953)

This a chain of correspondence between Don Randall, the late President of Fender Sales and the marketing brains behind the famous Leo Fender guitars, Syd Heller, the owner of Columbia Music (no connection to Columbia Records) and Jimmy in 1953. At the time, Jimmy was touring with Red Norvo on the west coast and probably staying with Red in Santa Monica (see c/o). This probably came about because Jimmy visited Syd’s store in San Francisco. The store was sort of an all-in-one music establishment, carrying records, tapes, musical instruments, instruction books and had a small record production company on the side (perhaps a small recording studio as well though not sure). Syd was obviously a fan of jazz and Jimmy’s music and probably wanted to promote him with the help of Don.

Of note is the somewhat humorous section of Don’s letter, where he expresses his befuddlement about how anyone could not be using Fender guitars (Jimmy obviously was a devoted Gibson user) in particular the Telecaster which Oscar Moore was quoted as saying was “the best guitar he ever played”. Needless to say, to get Jimmy on the publicity bandwagon required a conversion to Fenderism from Gibsonism.

Obviously this never happened.

Syd Heller to Jimmy Raney

Syd Heller to Jimmy Raney
Randall Letter

Don Randall, Pres Fender Sales to Syd Heller

Don Randall letter to Syd Heller


Letter from Jimmy Raney to Phil Bailey re: Birdland ’52 CD from John Scofield

This was a scan of a letter I received from Patty Bailey, the wife of the late Phil Bailey, jazz radio host in Louisville. My father was a guest on Phil’s radio show very often and the two were pretty close.

It’s a copy of letter from Dad to Phil on the subject of the bootleg album, Birdland Sessions 1952 Featuring Jimmy Raney – Stan Getz put out by Fresh Sounds records. He received the CD from noted jazz guitarist and Raney fan, John Scofield. An interesting note is that I remembered this story years ago but had thought that I my recollection was wrong and that I had invented a “fish story” about John and the CD. I had asked John myself if the story was true and he said he honestly didn’t remember.

A little while later, Patty looked me up and offered to send this correspondence – which by complete coincidence – completely confirmed my understanding of where the CD that I now have in possession originated from: John Scofield.

Raney Letter

Jimmy Raney letter to Phil Bailey

Jimmy Raney letter to Phil Bailey
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