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The 50 Guitars of Tommy Garrett

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Biography

Snuff Garrett was an A&R man and a record producer in the 50’s and 60’s. Although his name may not be well known to those who enjoy the pop music of that era, many of the records that he produced and the people with whom he worked are quite well known.

He was born Thomas Garrett in Dallas, Texas in 1939. He worked in the music business in various locations around Texas and in various capacities, beginning when he was a teenager. At 15 he worked for a record producer in Dallas. By age 17, he was in Lubbock working as a disk jockey. It was there that he met Buddy Holly. Garrett had a TV show and a teenage night club in Wichita Falls. Somewhere along the line he picked up the nickname Snuff, most likely from a brand of tobacco product called Garrett. In 1958, while still in his teens, Snuff moved to Hollywood and began to work at Liberty Records.

At that time Liberty Records was probably best known as the home of the Chipmunks. Producer Ross Bagdasarian, also known as David Seville, had experimented with speeding up tapes and named his three characters after Liberty executives Alvin Bennett, Theodore Keep, and Simon Waronker. Bagdasarian met with a great deal of success. Snuff Garrett’s formula was to use the snappy tunes written by the Brill Building songwriters in New York, and to make sure that the words on the songs were intelligible. By 1961 Garrett was the head of A&R at Liberty. He hired Phil Spector to produce songs for Liberty in New York City.

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