Yes, the Amigos were there in 1978, when America’s first national guitar show was held in a Dallas hotel basement. John Brinkmann and his partners organized that now-legendary event, which garnered participation from a dozen-or-so nervous and nationally-known dealers. No one owned guitar stands, so Les Paul models and Stella parlor guitars shared table tops next to each other. Curious show-goers meandered among stacks of empty cases in the narrow aisles, and exhibitors warily posted prices on their merchandise.
John, owner of Waco Vintage in Mansfield, Texas, along with veteran dealers, Larry Briggs of Strings West in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Dave Crocker of Fly-By-Night Music in Neosho, Missouri, would later form Texas Guitar Shows, Inc., perhaps America’s most prolific and respected show organization. The Amigos have continually fine-tuned the look and feel of guitar shows, taking them from hotel ballrooms to unique venues such as the Arlington Convention Center, OC Fair and Event Center, Marin Civic Center, The Factory at Franklin near Nashville and The Odeum Expo near Chicago.
Over two hundred shows later, Amigo events are still known for their smooth-running organization, tight security, and the abundance of foreign and domestic buyers. Since founding Texas Guitar Shows, the Amigos have pioneered almost every innovation in the guitar show business. The fabulous Arlington, Texas show (Guitarlington) remains the world’s largest consumer guitar event, and is considered by most exhibitors to be the show to attend.
John Brinkmann passed away in 2013, and his wife Ruth continues as an Amigo. In 2016 the organization changed its name to Amigo Guitar Shows to highlight the Amigo brand.