After 41 years with the legendary company, Dick Boak has retired from Martin Guitar. It's the end of an era. When people speak of Fender guitars, you often hear the phrase "Pre-CBS". I won't be surprised if January 8, 2018 marks a similar shift in the way people eventually refer to Martin Guitar, in Nazareth, PA. #postboak
Boak spent most of his time with Martin as the head of artist relations, and most recently, as the man in charge of the Martin archives. I met Dick Boak many, many years ago when I was just a local working musician - long before I became a Martin dealer. Our paths crossed every now and again. On any random visit to the Martin Guitar Factory, there was a good chance you'd see him in the lobby, and later - the museum. Whether he was arranging a private tour for a celebrity, or helping a "regular joe" with a mundane warranty question - Dick Boak was always smiling, always helpful, and from what I could tell, always enjoying himself. The more I frequented the factory, the more evidence I collected to prove that this is the part he was born to play.
In 2002, I joined the Unofficial Martin Guitar Forum - an internet message board for diehard Martin fans. In August of that year, we rented a pavilion in downtown Nazareth & organized a 2-day jam session. For that first "Nazfest", 80 of us showed up at the log cabin and had an amazing time. This event has grown exponentially and is now known as "MartinFest". I'll never forget meeting so many great people that day. Many of my strongest friendships began that very afternoon. Folks like Tony Phillips, Bob Hinkley, Spoon Phillips and Mikey Buono. Mikey was the first person I'd met, and within a few minutes we were singing. Dick Boak walked up to us and asked if we knew any Beatles, and someone handed him a guitar. From that weekend on, Dick has been a strong supporter of the UMGF and we're extremely fortunate to have him as our pal. He's always brimming with guitar excitement, and never tires of chatting about these great guitars and their history.
L to R: Mike Buono, Maury Rutch, Dick Boak. (photo by Todd Stuart Phillips)
When Lori and I opened Maury's Music in the fall of 2003, Dick was just as approachable as ever. Whether we were meeting by chance at the factory, sharing dinner a NAMM show, or hanging backstage with Graham Nash -Dick always had time for me. His knowledge of all things Martin is really something special, and yet he never comes across as too busy or distracted. One time, a customer of ours had a special request. He asked "next time you see Dick Boak, could you ask him to sign my poster?" Fast forward a couple of weeks, and there I was watching Dick autogaph one of his famous pen and ink illustrations with the signature "from the hippie in the woodpile".
Dick Boak's name isn't on the headstock of these fine guitars, and it's not on the side of the building... but anyone who knows anything about Martin Guitars, knows about Dick Boak. And that's for good reason.
Dick - here's wishing you all the best going forward in your musical journey. Heartfelt congratulations, and thanks for all you do!