The Early Years (1927 - 1962)
Our story begins in the early 1910s with Clara Tarpley. Clara was a piano teacher in Wellington, TX that wanted a way to further share her passion for music with her local communities in the Texas Panhandle. She began selling pianos out of a hardware store in Shamrock, TX and made her very first piano sale in 1917.
During the 1920s: Pampa, TX was booming from oil production and Mrs. Tarpley decided that Pampa was the place to be. So in 1927 she moved her business into downtown Pampa and established Tarpley Music Company.
Clara was a highly respected business woman who survived her business through the Great Depression and was actively involved in all aspects of her business, which included making piano deliveries. Ironically, her untimely death was the result of a traffic accident following a piano delivery in 1954.
Her son Louis was already involved in the business and took over the full-time management following the death of his mother. Louis was an outstanding businessman and continued the growth of the company. During Louis’ ownership, we were selling everything from televisions, antennas, appliances, and of course musical instruments. And in 1962, Louis passed away.
The Brothers (1962 - 1991)
Louis' two sons, Bill and Glenn "Buz" took over the management of the music business at that time, which started a completely new era for Tarpley Music. Bill and Buz continued to expand the business by adding stereo equipment, guitars, and other "hot" products of the time. They sold many of the original products from Fender, Gibson, Martin, and Hammond Organs.
The brothers being very successful in Pampa decided to open a store in nearby Perryton, TX which they kept open until 1964 when they had the opportunity to purchase Jenkins Music in Amarillo, Texas. Two years later in 1966, Tolzien Musicapproached Tarpley Music to buy their store in Amarillo, which we did.
In 1984: Bill's son, David, joined the company full-time. And then in 1986 the company opened a store in Lubbock, TX after purchasing the Electric Ear, which David took over the management of. In 1989: Buz's son, John, joined the company full-time and took over the management of the Pampa, TX location.
Also in 1991, the company expanded to a fourth location in Clovis, New Mexico.
The Sons (1991 - Present Day)
During the 1990s, David and John assumed the management of the company. In 1991, David & Casey McGrew created a complete professional sound and video installation division, Tarpley Media, that headquarters in the Lubbock location.
In 1995, a central warehouse and office complex was built in Amarillo, TX. David and John both moved to Amarillo to manage the company from there. In 1998, they added the fifth Tarpley location in Wichita Falls, Texas, which was in operation until mid-2007. In 2006, a new location was added in San Angelo, Texas.
In 2008, they closed the Wichita Falls and Pampa locations. New locations were opened in Waco in 2016 and Burleson in 2019 bringing the active total of locations to six. Bill passed in 2015 and Glenn in 2018, both working in the company for over 50 years.
Members of the 5th generation, David’s sons Brad and Bryan and John’s son Mason, are now working in the company – continuing our long family involvement in the business.
Tarpley Music continues to grow and expand, always trying to keep the company on the forefront in our industry. Tarpley Music has large commitments to all segments of the industry. This includes from having our own Media Division doing major sound and video installations to educational representatives calling on over three hundred schools.
Tarpley Music currently ranks 43 in the Top 200 music stores in the country (out of an estimated 7,500+ music stores) by size, as ranked by Music Trades magazine.
In 2022 we're celebrating 95 years of being in business. We couldn't have made it this far without the support of our communities in both Texas & New Mexico, as well as our friends & partners in the music retail industry.
We're thankful that we have been given the opportunities to go from a small-town Texas Panhandle shop to the largest and the oldest family-owned independent musical instrument retail company in Texas & New Mexico.