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Trade Regrets: Sammy Ash

Christian Wissmuller • Trade RegretsUpfront • September 19, 2023

Sammy Ash is handed the 2019 MMR Don Johnson Industry Service Award by MMR executive editor Christian Wissmuller

Sammy Ash, longtime COO of Sam Ash Music, the largest family-owned music retail company in America, passed away on September 16, after battling melanoma since his diagnosis in 2022. He was 65.

As a primary steward of the MI retail giant (44 outlets across 16 U.S. states) founded by his grandfather, Sam, in 1924, Ash was a widely respected figure in, and spokesperson for, the industry. In addition to his many achievement directly related to Sam Ash Music Corp., Sammy’s reach extended throughout music making culture in a myriad of other ways (he named the iconic Tube Screamer pedal, for one).

The following was posted on the Sam Ash website in tribute. Sammy Ash will be deeply missed and not soon forgotten:

Sammy Ash passed peacefully in his sleep at 4 AM on Saturday, Sept 16 at the age of 65. Last year, he was diagnosed with Advanced Stage 4 Metastatic Melanoma which he quietly but courageously battled. Sam is survived by his wife, Rachel, and his four children: Ben, Max, Alex, and Jason. 

Sammy spent his entire life devoted to his loving family and the musical instrument business. Sam worked tirelessly and pridefully for 50 years to help grow his family’s company, Sam Ash Music, to the household name it is today. Thanks to Sam’s guidance and leadership, the company is about to reach its 100th year in business.

Sam was named after his grandfather, Samuel Ash, founder of Sam Ash Music and respected band leader in the early 1900’s. Sammy was an astute businessman and an admired figure in the musical instruments industry. He was a proud member of NAMM Organization (National Association Of Music Merchants) where he once served on the Board of Directors, a title his son Ben currently holds. 

Sammy was a talented Guitarist and an influental Guitar Collector who amassed an extraordinary collection over his lifetime, of which he was extremely proud. His encyclopediac knowledge of the Guitar and other vintage instruments inspired Sammy to create Sam Ash Music’s Used Instrument Business. Under his guidance and unwavering work ethic, Sam Ash became a premier desitnation for buying and selling Used/Vintage gear. Sammy was a generous teacher, distributing his knowledge and mentoring many Sam Ash associates on the Used & Vintage Instrument markets. Out of his many roles within his family company, the management of the Used department was his crowning achievement. 

His love for the music industry and those in it were the fuel that made him excited to work every day of his life (yes, even on weekends and vacations). Sammy effortlessly converted coworkers and business associates into friends over his lifetime, all of whom have the utmost respect and love for him. He made a point to keep in contact regularly with everyone he could and find opportunities to connect and work together on various projects, including the design of instruments and coordinating iconic in store events

Sammy was incredibly grateful for all current and former employees of  Sam Ash Music. He knew every individual, no matter what title they were or location they were from, was integral to make his company one of the best in the world. He was proud of everyone and celebrated their achievements regularly. Sammy rested easy knowing the company he helped build was in great hands. He was most proud to have three of his sons be a part of his family’s legacy and carry it onward to the 100th Anniversary and beyond.

Generous, caring, honest, and talented, Sammy as all of those qualities and so much more. Beyond the Music Business, Sammy was a strong and active supporter of T Off 4 Autism charity. Any donations made in his honor should be addressed to them. 

Donate to T Off 4 Autism Here

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