Elliot Easton's Tiki Lounge

Tribute to Bernie Gracin-Gracin’s Music

1

You want a story? I have a doozy. I grew up in Massapequa, Long Island and Gracin's was my go-to store. I used to take the Sunrise Hwy. bus and I remember that the store was right next to Wetson's Hamburgers. I got a crappy import electric from White's of Massapequa for my Bar Mitzvah and around '67-'68 I wanted a good acoustic guitar to play folk and country blues. With my budget (very little), Bernie steered me to an all-mahogany Favilla acoustic guitar. I worked at the bagel store on Hicksville Rd. in Seaford/Plainview/ N.Massapequa in the Calvert Shopping Center. Bernie ordered the lefty acoustic for me from Tommy Favilla and I drove Bernie crazy calling him practically every day to see if it was in! He couldn't have been more patient and kind to me and when the guitar finally arrived I was thrilled and loved that thing so much. I was never without it. A year or two later in the 11th grade I decided that since my heroes Robbie Robertson, Jesse Ed Davis, Mike Bloomfield, Roy Buchanan, Roy Nichols, Clarence White, Cornell Dupree, Steve Cropper and James Burton (to name a few), all played Telecasters, then I had to have one too. Sooooo, I went to Gracin's and Bernie ordered me a custom-made left handed Telecaster in blonde with a maple neck. The price, with case and tax was around $220, a fortune to me then. I got a job at La Crepe restaurant in the Bar Harbor Shopping Center in Massapequa to earn the money to pay for the guitar. I was one of those kids who was completely obsessed with guitars, sending away for catalogs, hiding them in my textbooks at school, etc. I knew every spec of every model from every company you could name. Obsessed. By now, I was in a fever to get my guitar and again, I called almost every day and drove Bernie nuts but he was again totally kind and patient with me. I loved guitars so much that even Bernie and Pops couldn't believe it. I would take the bus to Gracin's just to be around guitars. I used to help Danny, sweeping the floor, moving boxes, anything I could do to make myself useful. Bernie could not believe how much this kid loved guitars. He understood how badly I wanted that guitar and even loaned my a used lefty Fender Jaguar that someone brought in on trade. It had a psychedelic paint job and Bernie said I could hang onto it until my Telecaster came in. Maybe he thought I wouldn't call so much if I had a Fender to play! He was such a kind man, sometimes it would be late and closing time and he would actually drive me home rather than my having to take the bus at night at 16 years old. That's a mensch. This was 1971. Soooooo, now, roll up to 1979, I've already made two multi platinum albums with The Cars, and Gibson brought me out the the summer NAMM show at McCormick Place in Chicago. So, I'm standing in one of the booths and across the floor I see BERNIE GRACIN!!! I raced over to him, not really expecting him to remember me. I introduced myself to him him and told him about my success with The Cars. I told him my name and reminded him and thanked him for his kindness to me all those years ago. When I finished the story, he had tears in his eyes and said "you've gotta meet my wife!" He dragged me over to his wife and said to her, "THIS IS THE KID I ALWAYS USED TO TELL YOU ABOUT WHO WAS SO CRAZY ABOUT GUITARS!!!" He remembered. How's that for a Bernie Gracin story?

3

that's one very cool story, Elliot. no matter how famous someone gets, they have humble beginnings. my family and I are good friends with Larry Graham and his family. he is humble as well.

4

That is great story, Elliot. I'd say that you made his day, too.

5

What a cool story... many a guitarist got a start by hanging around a store to pick up idea and meet other players. This stuff can be done online now --to a point -- but not back then! Being from North Jersey, the NY scene was pretty much another world, except where the two tribes met on 48th street, where I got few guitars in the 1972-1976 period.I didn't become a Telecaster obsessive until I heard what Roy Buchanan was doing with them in those same years. But I went off the Fender and solid body scene totally, around the turn of the century, switching my allegiance to Gretsch.

I would like to ask what the EE gear setup was for the fills and lead in Best Friend's Girfriend -- I recall the Cars' first breakout song was Just What I Needed .. and I thought ok here's another kind of heavy rock band.. but BFG has a real sparkle guitar sound to those parts. Even then I wondered if it were a Gretsch -- Gretsch was pretty much off the radar at that point .. it was a few more years before groups singularly associated with Gretsch like Stray Cats and X really came in to wide public view --- although I am pretty sure they were formed by the late 70s.

6

hah! great tale…had similar "obsession" (we still do!)…guitar player magazine in class hidden inside textbook, 48th street at least 3x a week..catalogs etc…

think i got a dan armstrong plexi at gracins

good stuff

cheers

7

This is exactly why it is so important to take an interest in young people and to offer them friendly encouragement and support. You never know how much of an influence you might have on a youngster.

Great story, Elliot. And it was nice of you to reach out to Bernie at the NAMM Show. You undoubtedly made his day.

9

Thanks for sharing, EE.

10

Good story. Must have felt good to make him so happy.

11

Great story about the both of you!


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