George Gimarc's Memorabilia Collection is a Crusade for Texas Music History
George Gimarc has accrued an immense collection of music memorabilia
For George Gimarc, music memorabilia has become a way of life. Preserving the memorabilia is tantamount to preserving the history of the music itself, and for someone like himself, who's built a staggering collection of memorabilia, it's nothing short of an art form. Records, photos, clothing, instruments, scraps of paper -- all of it, in the right hands, can be simply priceless. And with The Texas Musician's Museum set to reopen later this year, it's a heritage all of North Texas will be able to share in.
The problem is the difficulty in obtaining the memorabilia or even knowing that it exists to begin with. And Gimarc is always on the hunt to save memorabilia from the clutches of oblivion either at estate sales, second-hand record shops or buildings on the verge of demolition, just to name a few. Just last week, he scrambled to save the original payment checks from the early, budding days of Buddy Magazine in downtown.
"There was a pile of rubble in one corner as the building was being knocked down. There were checks lying in the dirt next to an original snapshot of Stevie Ray Vaughan and his brother Jimmie playing together onstage," Gimarc reveals.
Gimarc's Wurlitzer on display with his collection
Gimarc is, in his own right, something of a local music icon, but he's gone largely off the radar since he left the world of alternative-rock radio more than 20 years ago. He used to host a show with Johnny Rotten for several years, and was the music director for The Edge when the station still had a backbone. While the punk-minded Gimarc that used to be known for DJing Kate Bush, Siousxie Sioux and the Smiths may be gone, he's been keeping busy with his all-comedy radio stations, and is constantly archiving local music dating back to the 1920s.
Upon meeting Gimarc, his trademark round spectacles, much like the pair John Lennon wore in his later years, give him the appearance of a librarian, and for good reason too. The thousands of LPs and 45s he's accumulated speak worlds about both his musical knowledge and appreciation. And he has a particularly deep catalog of Texas records, ranging from a tin of albums replicating the personal collection Buddy Holly owned before his death to the original 78 of "Texas Flood" recorded by blues guitarist Larry Davis, which Stevie Ray Vaughan famously used in his repertoire.
Other pieces have more personal connections for Gimarc and show flashes of the considerable influence he once wielded in North Texas music when he was still a radio DJ. In what could be considered his "vault", Gimarc also has a framed Nirvana "Nevermind" award, thanking him for helping DGC Records sell 4 million units worldwide. But Gimarc will always keep the secret of how he actually led Dallas to sell the most copies of the album during its first week.
It's also his uncanny ability at crate digging that led to him to discovering long-lost Hank Williams recordings called "The Garden Spot Programs." The series of radio shows, recorded in 1950, were found by Gimarc on 16-inch transcription discs. The songs were digitally restored and released on Omnivore Records, where they received Best Historical Album at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards. "I'm a Grammy Award-winner. Well, technically the label is, but it was my groundwork that made that happen," remarks Gimarc. It's always Gimarc's goal to preserve the music not only for himself, but for every music fan out there that may have any interest in the music.
All the while, he's also been working for the better part of a decade with music historian Thomas Kreason to reopen The Texas Musician's Museum at its new location in Irving. It's slated to happen this spring. Gimarc plans on loaning pieces from his personal collection to The Texas Musician's Museum, like his Thomas Edison Phonograph, an all-mechanical record player that works by winding a crank to play phonograph cylinders. "It's going to be my collection on display as well as a lot of other people's collections," says Gimarc.
Meanwhile, he's looking for someone with about 20 mannequins to display musician's outfits on. "And we're looking for anyone else who might have something they'd like to toss into the mix," Gimarc adds. Everything about the museum requires the help of the community to function to its best ability.
Even given his busy schedule, Gimarc is an accomplished writer, and is currently a music supervisor for AMC's Halt and Catch Fire starring Dallas-born actor Scoot McNairy. Regardless of his accomplishments, Gimarc has remained local his entire career, and his current work reflects that of someone who embraces their roots. The Texas Musician's Museum may not be opening until late spring but, in the meantime, you can visit texasmusiciansmuseum.com or visit Gimarc's website at www.gimarc.com.
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