It was 20 years ago today…
and Sgt. Pepper wasn’t really involved. Sorry. It wasn’t an iconic Beatles record. It was a simple, quiet act that really didn’t seem like that big a deal at the time. There was no fanfare, no celebration, not even a note on the calendar — but sometime in 1995, I pressed a button, and the Gretsch Pages was born.
Or rather, a very early version of what would become The Gretsch Pages. In those days, the whole thing was tucked away on the Arizona State University servers, because as a student I had an account, and I put up a page for whatever interested me at the time. There was a Russ Meyer page, an MG cars page, and among other things, a Gretsch Page. Just one.
And what I rapidly noticed was that I was pretty much the only source of Gretsch anything on the nascent internet. At the time, even gretsch.com hadn’t started yet. It was just me.
Except it wasn’t just me. It was me, and a whole lotta other folks who started coming out of the woodwork to ask questions I was usually ill-prepared to answer. I was just some college student who thought, “might as well do it, nobody else is.”
I could have paid attention to the O.J. Simpson trial. I could have learned Windows 95, or invested in the stock market as it climbed to 5000 for the first time. I made a web site. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
Over the next couple of years, the other pages on my little student account fell by the wayside, but the little Gretsch section kept growing. When I graduated, I kinda thought that would be the end of it. The ASU space would be shut down, I would join the working world, and that would be the end of that.
Except the internet — even in those early days — conspired otherwise. My mailbox was pounded with people asking me to enlarge and expand, so I ponied up for new server space. By that point, it said “The Gretsch Pages” up top, but the address was on cysource.com. You’ll still occasionally see an image watermarked with that address and some other dusty old references. It was around this time the discussion board was added. Now people could do more than ask me about Gretsches, they could ask each other. And talk about pomade and beer.
In 1999, we hit the big time, registering gretschpages.com for the first time. Some folks still on here started appearing around that time. Off the top of my head, JBGretschGuy, Norm, Thomas and Don Butler were all around about then. Probably others. If I didn’t think of you, speak up!
In those earliest days of the forum, vintage questions outnumbered modern about 2 to 1, but that was changing fast. Fred Gretsch was moving into the mainstream, and new sections on the forum opened up for made-in-Korea models and endorsers like Duane Eddy and Elliot Easton started dropping by.
By the early 2000s, the community aspect had really cemented, and the speed and willingness of that community to band together for any worthwhile cause was already evident. Sometimes that was helping someone in need, or maybe just putting together a series of Gretsch Pages compilation CDs, which now bring big bucks among collectors. Or at least they should. They’re quite good.
And after dabbling in some community Gretsch-togethers in 2007, we sprung the Gretsch Pages Roundups on the world in 2008. Or again, the community did. I am not responsible for all that has been wrought.
Year after year, we kept chugging on. Adding features. Dropping some. More people. Bigger servers. More people. Repeat. There’s been some setbacks along the way, notably some vicious server issues around 2007-2008 and the Great Database Meltdown of 2014. But we keep going. Ever forward.
We’ve seen a lot of people come and go. Some have come back again. Some we continue to hope will. And some we wish could come back again, because we miss them terribly.
Somewhere along the way, a college students’ flight of fancy became something entirely bigger. Twenty years in, we’re still not what to make of all of it, other than to just look on in awe and wonder. And plan to enjoy many more years of it.