Treasures of the Valley

Grayson’s Tune Town – Part 2

Last week former CV resident Mike McClish wrote a beautiful history of the beginnings of Montrose’s iconic Grayson’s Tune Town. Here is what he wrote about their later years:

“The years 1960-1985 were the years that Grayson’s Tune Town evolved the most from selling only records, then moving into car stereo equipment, instruments, lessons and sheet music until they found they were outgrowing even the store they were in. Val and Adaline Graysons’ two sons, Ken and Dennis, grew up working in the store. Ken remembers the very early years, counting the cash received each day in their kitchen. Keeping any small business is tough when working against big box stores and now internet businesses.

“Grayson’s Tune Town has been open since 1953, one of the older businesses in Montrose. They always supported the music programs of Clark, Rosemont and CV High by giving student awards every year. They also supported the Glendale Youth Orchestra over the years, and helped keep them in existence by scouting and finding rehearsal space for them. You won’t see full-page ads in the paper, or see a lot of fast talking ‘Crazy Eddy’ type ads about their deals. As Ken told me, ‘I never sought notoriety.’ They were always happier being involved in the Montrose community, working with other business owners, creating a neighborhood people love and want to live in for a long time. And that is just what the Grayson family did. Oldest son Ken runs Grayson’s Tune Town now and his daughter works there, as does his grandson, Connor, who is Val’s great-grandson.

“Grayson’s has had many people teach lessons at the store. Val himself taught clarinet. Brian Walsh, jazz clarinetist, graduate of Cal Arts, and now a part of the LA jazz community, studied with Val Grayson. Bruce Patterson, well-known Flamenco guitarist (rated top in the nation five years straight), taught guitar there. Classical guitarist Bob Vaught taught there several years. One of Bob’s students, Randy Rhoads, became the guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne. Another student of Bob’s was Carl Verheyen, known by most as the guitarist in Supertramp, but now a very well-known studio personality. Jim Guercio, a graduate of USC who had written songs for Chad and Jeremy and became the producer for a band you might remember, Chicago, also taught in the back rooms of Val’s store. David Tao, now a very famous Taiwanese singer-performer, used to work at Grayson’s Tune Town.

“During the years from 1960 to 1985, Grayson’s changed from just a record store to a music store that carries primarily guitars, and also expanding into fretted instrument repair. Val and Adeline purchased a plot of land a block away from the Wickham Way location and, by the early ’80s started construction on their own building. By 1985 they opened the new, improved Grayson’s Tune Town, more than double, perhaps three times, the size of the Grayson’s Tune Town I remember.

“Val and Adeline Grayson have built quite a family business. As life happens, Adeline passed on after a 50-year marriage. Val, Ken and Dennis still ran the store, but Dennis retired 10 years ago.

“However, Val was not done. I mean, he’s a musician and music is not just in your blood, it is your blood. Music is your own special voice, and Val’s voice of the ‘big band’ era started singing again. He reformed the Val Grayson Orchestra. He played and conducted in the area, places like the Glendale YWCA and Glendale Civic Auditorium. Val Grayson continued conducting the Val Grayson Orchestra up until he was 90. It was his fountain of youth. Val Grayson died in 2004 at 91. His legacy is a legacy of love: love of music, people, community, family and roots. He never forgot the kindness shown him at Mooseheart School in Illinois, and he paid it forward many times over in the community of Montrose-Crescenta-Cañada. Grayson’s Tune Town is one of Montrose’s historical treasures that is still very much alive and well.

“Thank you, Val and Adeline, for all you did for me, my friends and all of the other kids who walk into Grayson’s Tune Town looking for their soul.”

Mike Lawler is the former
president of the Historical
Society of the Crescenta Valley
and loves local history.
Reach him at