Interview with Barb Page Part 1 Kramer / Ernie Ball
Greg: Hi Barb. Welcome to our new blog and thank you for taking part in our first guest post.
Barb: You’re welcome and congratulations on your new blog.
Greg: Thanks. I’ve had quite a few people during the 15 plus years that I’ve known you, ask me questions about you and your involvement with Eddie Van Halen’s musical equipment products.
You were definitely fundamental to the success of his guitar and amplifier lines but you always kept a low profile.
Barb: Up until now huh? (laughs)
Greg: Before we begin talking about how you met Ed and how you got involved with the EVH Wolfgang/5150 products, I’d like to know how you’re doing since hearing the news of Ed’s passing? I know it must have been difficult for you because you were friends and worked together for about 25 years.
Barb: I was devastated by the loss of Edward and really sad about it for a long time. I still am actually and tear up whenever I think about him. He was a wonderful human being and a kind and gentle soul. I really loved Edward like a brother and we went through so much during our time together on both a business and personal level. It was really a privilege to work alongside him for so many years. Thankfully we both had the same sense of humor so we laughed a lot and had fun together even during some pretty crazy moments. I’ll always remember his playful nature, infectious smile and the sound of his laughter.
After he passed, I went through a box of mementos and some photos and letters that Edward wrote to me, trying to make sense of what had just happened. As I looked back on everything It was mind boggling to comprehend just how much he accomplished in his lifetime. He made things look so easy but he worked really hard and put in the time and effort to make sure things were done right and to his liking. The guy was truly remarkable on so many levels and he was so humble about his stature as one of rock history’s most influential guitarists. His life was short but wide.
Greg: It sure was. There has never been an artist who had the kind of success that Ed had with both his music career and his musical product line. Never!
Barb: I agree.
Greg: How did you meet Ed and out of all the people that he knew in the business why do you think he chose you to team up with? It turned out to be a good decision because his products have become staples of modern rock music and are well respected.
Barb: Yes things really worked out well and what an honor it was to help him achieve some of his goals. I met Valerie Bertinelli at a business management office that I worked at and I knew her years before I met Edward. She introduced me to him a few months after they had met in 1980. I had no idea who he was and never heard of Van Halen. I was into music and spent most of my weekends as a teenager going to rock concerts but Van Halen wasn’t on my radar.
A few years after he and Val got married, he had his files transferred over to the business management office that I was working at and his account was assigned to me. Later down the line he mentioned that he was endorsing a guitar for Kramer and he said he also had a guitar string deal with them. I had seen very little money come in so I asked Edward if I could contact Kramer to get an accounting of the sales and he said yes.
I saw that the 5150 string packaging had ” Kramer by Ernie Ball ” on it so I requested an accounting from both organizations so I could match up the numbers and I found some discrepancies. We also anticipated Kramer filing for bankruptcy after they lost a lawsuit brought on by Floyd Rose, so it seemed like the right time for Edward to move on and explore his options. Kramer did eventually file for bankruptcy.
It was after that when Edward asked me if I’d be willing to help him out with everything. He knew that during the day I was working in an office and that during the evenings and on weekends I was singing and playing guitar in a rock band and playing in small clubs around town. He knew that I was familiar and comfortable with being in and around recording and rehearsal studios and that I was knowledgeable about musical equipment and up to date on what artist was endorsing what product etc. So I think he asked me to help him because he said I was good with figures and that I could somewhat relate to, on a very small scale, the ins and outs of his everyday life as a musician.
Greg: So why did you decide to go to Music Man and why did you leave?
Barb: I had met Sterling Ball because of the string deal Edward had with him and we had a good rapport. The guitars that Music Man were putting out were top quality, made in the USA and the factory was located up the coast and the roster of players that endorsed their guitars were talented and well respected. So I asked Sterling if he would be interested in making a guitar for Edward that he would design and not just endorse. He was on board with that concept but I told him before Edward would sign on the dotted line I needed to meet with his father Ernie and take a tour of the factory. Ernie Ball was 100% committed to our project and the factory was top notch so we decided to team up with them. Edward worked really hard on the guitar and he was very happy and proud of the finished product. The highly anticipated EVH Music Man guitar debuted at the 1991 NAMM show in Anaheim and was well received.
Fast forward 3 years and about 6000 EVH Music Man guitars later. We left Music Man because we had concerns about them being able to keep up with the high demand of Edward’s guitars and there were some interpersonal conflicts going on there that just couldn’t be resolved.
But as they say, the show must go on (laughs).