- Written by Christian Wissmuller
- Published: 30 January 2014
We at MMR were saddened to receive the following message from Jon Harris of Harris-Teller:
I have some very sad news to share with you. Tony Caschetta, our longtime salesman and friend, passed away on January 17, 2014. Although Tony had been battling cancer for some time, the end was very fast. I can tell you that Tony’s passing has literally rocked the entire Harris Teller family as well as many people who Tony has come into contact with over his 40 plus year tenure in the music industry of which 38 were spent here at Harris Teller. My earliest memories have included Tony, as I have known him since I was 5 years old. I was that pesky kid who was always playing jokes on and pestering the adults. During one party after a Chicago Summer NAMM show, I was bugging Tony and my father for a sip of alcohol. I was probably not even 14 years old and I would not leave them alone. Finally, Tony and my Dad got together and decided to show me the “error” of my ways. They ordered me some of what they were drinking, Sambuca, and let me have at it. After one or two sips of the strong anise flavored drink, I decided that maybe it was not such a good idea to start drinking. That story used to come up a lot as I started working full time here at Harris Teller and somehow every time we told it, I was younger in the story. At last retelling, I think I had become a 7-year-old boy who was given a drink by Tony.
That was my first “NAMM Story” which involved Tony Caschetta but certainly not my last. Tony loved the Music Industry and one of his favorite things was NAMM. He attended each and every year in Chicago, Atlanta, New Orleans, Los Angeles and of course Anaheim. He went out to see new products, meet with Vendors and see his customers but most importantly he went to spend time with his friends. Tony went to NAMM to build and strengthen his relationships with our vendors and customers who quite often became his good friends. It was during these trips to NAMM that some of my most memorable Music Industry stories occurred. I could not possibly share all of these stories in this letter but rest assured that we at Harris Teller will never forget them or Tony. Some of the highlights include the coffee pot incident at the Presidential Suite at the Biltmore Hotel, the infamous arm wrestling match at The Catch in Anaheim, the Lemon Drop Kid, the Dweezil Zappa night, the pink wig time at the Marriott, the many times at the side bar in the Hilton with Eric Sardinas and the countless times holding court on the Lanai deck at the Hilton. Although this may seem like a lot of stories, believe me, it is barely the tip of the iceberg. Although Tony attended NAMM to work (and he did put in a full day no matter how late the prior night lasted), it seemed like he came back each year with several stories that made it into the Harris Teller NAMM lore. You see, Tony never took himself too seriously to have a great time. Tony enjoyed every moment and it showed. His spirit was contagious. He often spent the rest of the year reliving his good times and we all enjoyed re-telling the stories. What Tony did take seriously was the well being of his customers and friends. Tony was the consummate salesman and professional. He spent extra time with and made every customer feel special. Tony cared very deeply about his family and friends and he will be sorely missed.
I hope that as you read over this letter, you were fortunate enough to have spent some time with Tony in person or on the phone. Maybe you are even lucky enough to have been a part of one of these times at NAMM and the memory will bring a smile to your face. Few days will pass where something will not remind us of Tony. That is the type of guy he was and he will live on through all of the great memories that we have of him. In the week or so since his passing, we have received countless letters and phone calls from Tony’s friends expressing their sympathy and extolling him. Some of these came from his customers, some came from other salesman’s customers and some came from one of our vendors but each and every one of them came from someone that considered Tony a friend. He was a special man and we have truly lost a family member here at Harris Teller.