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Gerald McCabe, founder of McCabe's Guitar Shop, dies at 82 [UPDATED]

January 21, 2010 | 12:05 pm

Gerald McCabe, whose furniture repair shop turned into a roots music institution in Santa Monica, died this week at age 82.

News of his passing Sunday was unveiled on the website for McCabe's Guitar Shop, which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. A statement on the site described McCabe as a "furniture designer, yoga instructor, sailor, restorer of old Citroens, and so much more."

He was no longer involved in the day-to-day operation of the store, having recently relocated to Oregon, said Isaac Parfrey, general manager of McCabe's.

McCabe, born Jan. 30, 1927, was said to have been battling Alzheimer's disease for a number of years. Parfrey said he had little interaction with McCabe himself, but described him as "larger than life" and noted that McCabe's family had passed along his last words. They were "Yabba dabba do!" 

The Times is planning to run a full obit in Friday's paper, and it should be online later today. [UPDATED 7:46 p.m.: The full Gerald McCabe obit is now online.]

McCabe originally intended his store to focus on furniture design and restoration. The switch to  music was made when Gerald began repairing damaged guitars.

In a 2008 story on the the 50th anniversary of McCabe's, The Times' Randy Lewis wrote, "Someone brought in a damaged guitar one day and asked if McCabe could fix it -- it was made of wood, after all. McCabe and partner Walter Camp soon began repairing instruments and offering new ones for sale, and the little shop quickly became a hub for musicians living in or passing through Los Angeles, many of whom would perform in the intimate space after hours."

Lewis noted some of the store's major events: "Loudon Wainwright III recorded a live album there, John Hiatt's 1987 breakthrough album, "Bring the Family," grew out of his association with McCabe's, the Ditty Bops practically grew up there and Richard Thompson played his first U.S. solo show there thanks to concert director Nancy Covey, to whom he's now been married for 25 years."

-- Todd Martens


The ballad of a classic guitar shop