1958 Powered Stereo Speakers—Thanks, Craigslist!

Nov 20, 2023

Another reason why I love living in Los Angeles: This is the weirdest story. I happened to see on Craigslist that a guy was selling a pair of 1958 powered stereo speakers—at a pretty cheap price for 1950s tube hi-fi gear. But then in the ad he mentions that these came from Norman Petty Studios in Clovis, New Mexico—and even had the paperwork to prove it! Naturally, I hotfooted it down to this guy’s house near the airport, and sure enough, the paperwork came from Danny White, the guy who handled a lot of the Norman Petty estate and who rebuilt a lot of the Norman Petty studio equipment that’s at the studio museum in Clovis. These were cheaper today than what Norman paid for them in 1958!! Go figure. And what’s even weirder is a guy in LA with these in his garage. L.A. is a weird place, magical stuff happens here!

Buddy Holly music sounds great on it, of course. But this was obviously a stereo system that Norman Petty invested in, in the earliest days of consumer stereo equipment. I threw a stereo Henry Mancini record on, and wow! Does this sound good.

I’m pretty sure Norman Petty had these speakers in the guest apartment at his studio, where the bands would stay when they came to record. The place is still pretty much exactly the way it was in the 1950s. I did a tour of it last year, and I can pretty much tell you what shelves these speakers must have been on (see photo below)! It would be great to find a photo of these in the Petty studio guest apartment from back in the day. Heck, since Norman got these in 1958, Buddy Holly might have even played stereo records through this system! The mind boggles.

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