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Music Focus History

Music Focus has been serving the South Bay for over 14 years. Here's a little history for anyone interested in this stuff.

In the mid 60's there was a place in Manhattan Beach called Gene Leis Guitars. Gene Leis was a jazz guitarist quite fond of the Brazilian and latin sounds. Gene was a great man and a certified legend in the South Bay. His "Django" license plate still evokes his memory. Well, about 20 different teachers taught for Gene during the 'hey day' of that little store front on Sepulveda Blvd. It was across the street from Lucky's, and the car wash (there used to be a hamburger place there called "Clancey's"...). All the young kids would come to this new place that was really cool. You could just hang out, talk guitar, and maybe Gene would give you a lick to play or ask you to play some difficult scale. It was our little hot bed of 'see and be seen!' After years of teaching in tiny little booths, some of the teachers got up the idea to teach 'off world'. What a novel idea. Well, Gene was all for it too. He helped out a little here and there and soon there was a new offshoot to Gene's called "Music West." Many people helped to build and maintain the new facility. Among the more notable 'pioneers' were Craig Welch, Brian Sisson, Pat & John Dietz, Brian Hartzler, Tammy, Paul Dewitt and many others.

Music West was located on Duncan Ave. in Manhattan Beach just down he street from the Manhattan Car Wash (coincidentally across the street from the new location of Dietz Bros Music). The early days of teaching at Music West were filled with easy going schedules and lots of sharing rooms, materials, songs, licks and laughs.After a settling in period the teaching squad finally reduced to a core group: Brian Hartzler, Pat & John Dietz, Craig Welch and Paul Dewitt. About this time Craig unfortunately was diagnosed with Lymphatic cancer. Though hope and prayer were not spared, Craig ultimately succumbed to the malady in the late 70's. Karl Grossman had become a regular substitute teacher at Music West during Craig's various hospital stays. His involvement was doubly appreciated because he was able to teach 'rock' guitar at a very reasonable volume. Something which Paul Dewitt was having a harder and harder time doing. Pat, John and ultimately Paul decided to part ways at which time Karl became the headmaster 'rock' teacher at Music West.

Karl Grossman continued to refine and expand his teaching repertoire and student base to nearly 50 students a week. To this day he uses a proprietary notation system derived from the system Paul Dewit developed in the early 70's

In the early 80's Karl became more and more interested in recording and the equipment involved in doing so. Karl also became involved in various rock groups in and around the South Bay. By happenstance one group was booked into a practice room on Valley Drive. 673 Valley Drive was the home of Miles Christiansen's recording and rehearsal studios. We used to rehearse in Miles' studio. But sometimes we would rehearse in the little unfinished studio next door at 671 whcih Miles also leased. Karl's first memory of the space was of sheer cacophony. There was no baffling at all and the rehearsal sound was deafening. All cement and brick walls!!

As serendipity would have it, Miles had to drop the lease on the 'little' studio and offered Karl first choice. Of course he took it and the space became and remains to this day a landmark of local band's dreams and schemes, plans and jams.

In 1984 Music West had left the Duncan location and Karl had become director of the business at the Valley Drive location. The Dietz Bros had set up their own shop and Karl began in earnest to develop and maintain a recording facility.

During the late 80's it became clear that another party had already begun doing business in the northern part of the state as 'Music West.' Thus began a search for a name that would be easy to remember and evoke a positive and forward looking image. After many, many 'how about's...' Music Focus was decided upon and trademarked.

Throughout our long history of people and their dreams we owe a great deal to the early motivators who began all this at Gene Leis Guitars through Music West and finally our present incarnation... Music Focus. We thank and honor those givers and lovers of music and spirit. God Bless you all.

As of 1996, the Music Focus name continues its service role in the community and as always keeps its 'eye on your future!'

Music Focus History