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Book on Peavey and his company set to hit shelves

Meridian — Many Mississippians, as well as those who use the company’s products, are familiar with the inspiring story of Hartley Peavey and Peavey Electronics. But many others may not know how Hartley Peavey took his company from the most meager beginnings to a global player, one of the largest manufacturers of musical instruments and professional sound equipment in the world.

However, that is about to change. A new book is set to hit the shelves on the 40-year-old company and its pioneering founder titled “The Peavey Revolution: The Gear, The Company & The All-American Success Story.” Published by Backbeat Books of San Francisco, the work is slated for release to bookstores and music stores nationwide October 3, 2005. (However, the book is currently being pre-sold.)

“The Peavey Revolution,” as told by the founder and many of his associates, relates how Peavey and the company has influenced a generation and innovated “every link in the audio chain” from the instruments and amplifiers used by music legends (noted blues guitarist Steve Cropper penned the foreword) to the elaborate sound systems behind the Sydney Opera House, London’s Heathrow Airport and the Las Vegas Strip.

(Today, the company holds more than 130 patents and produces more than 2,000 products distributed in the U.S. and 136 other countries. Peavey’s brands and affiliates can be found on soundstages and in airports, stadiums, theme parks, government buildings and other venues worldwide.)

The book also recounts how the maverick entrepreneur has remained the sole owner and visionary behind Peavey Electronics for its entire history, and how his innovations and fair-pricing philosophy keeps his company at the forefront of the music products industry.

“I didn’t have any money and couldn’t afford to buy the things I wanted, so I ended up building my own,” said plain-speaking Hartley Peavey.

Unfinished work

The idea for a definitive history on Peavey Electronics had actually been kicked around for a number of years. The main objector was Hartley Peavey, who felt that history was still being written.

“I didn’t like the timing. I just thought that it would make Peavey sound like it was a done-deal,” Peavey said. “The fat lady certainly hasn’t begun to sing yet.”

The book’s author is Ken Achard, an experienced writer who has contributed to the U.K. publications Guitar and Guitar Buyer, and his books include “The Fender Guitar” and “The History and Development of the American Guitar.” Achard is also very familiar with Hartley Peavey and the company. In 1973, he became one of the first export distributors for Peavey Electronics, and as a key executive worked for and with Hartley for 30 years.

Several years ago after retiring from Peavey, Achard contacted Hartley about writing a company history. Hartley said no. Hartley was also approached by a writer with a guitar-focused publication with the same request, and Hartley said no again.

Finally, Guitar Player magazine, part of the Music Player Network that includes Backbeat Books, contacted the company about a look-back book. With its 40-year anniversary at hand, and after heavy lobbying for the book from the company’s marketing department, Hartley finally gave the go-ahead, but insisted that Achard write the book.

The book will retail for $29.95. It will be available in fine book and music stores in the U.S. as well as internationally. It will also be available at Amazon.com and Backbeat Books.com as well as other venues.

The book is currently on sale at Peavey.com, Peavey Electronics is making a limited number of copies available (approximately 500 copies), signed by Hartley Peavey, for $21.95. To order, visit http://www.peavey.com/revolution/.

“Personally, I find the back-story compelling — how a young man with a vision started out in the attic of his father’s music store and turned his dream into an international musical dynasty,” said Nina Lesowitz of Backbeat Books. “Also, the company today has grown into a legendary brand across several product categories in the music industry. People know them for their amps, but do they know about Peavey computer-controlled audio systems behind 3,000 airports, stadiums and government facilities worldwide?”

Lesowitz said Backbeat Books is expecting “The Peavey Revolution” to be a strong and long-time seller both in the U.S. and abroad.

“Initial demand from music distributors is very high,” she said. “Plus, we expect it to continue to sell through the years.

“In addition to the universal appeal of this ‘American dream’ story, Hartley Peavey’s commitment to fair pricing, innovation and quality control is attracting international attention.”

Hartley Peavey, who is as proud of the fact that his company is debt-free as he is any of its other accomplishments, said folks should stay tuned for more “chapters” of Peavey Electronics’ history, pointing out that the company was still developing innovative products. In fact, he said an exciting announcement, details of which he could not supply at interview time, should be made some time before the end of the year.

“We have produced quality products at an affordable price,” Hartley Peavey said. “I think we have made a difference. I don’t know why I was given this opportunity, but I feel very fortunate to have been given it. And we’re not done yet — not even close.”

Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at northway@msbusiness.com.

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