Don Wade Music Store has been in existence for only four years, but Wade’s legacy is firmly seated in Bradley County and the surrounding area.
“My first guitar seemed like it had rope for strings,” Wade said.
Wade recently donated a guitar from his Blue Springs Road music store to Yates Primary School for their music program.
“When I first began to learn guitar, my family couldn’t afford much and I had to learn on hand-me-down instruments. I want to provide the opportunity to students in legitimate music programs in our schools to have a good instrument to learn with,” Wade said.
Wade plans on donating a guitar to all local schools this upcoming year.
“We have heard the saying many times — that music is the universal language,” he said.
“For me, it was a family tradition which I passed on to my children as well,” Wade said.
For over 40 years, Wade has crossed the south with bands, performing a variety of musical genres.
Beginning at age 10, he learned from his uncle Carl Jones, his mother Maggie Wade and other members of his family as well as a country storekeeper on Benton Pike. Penny Lawson would be constantly “picking” and learning as well, according to Wade.
This is where he grew up and how his love for music developed and flourished.
Wade has approximately two dozen guitar students at any given time who take lessons to learn from one of the local masters.
“I began playing Chet Atkins style. When I was 15, that was the first time I played in public,” Wade said.
Sharing what he has learned throughout the years has been a blessing.
From Top 40, Country ... a little Bluegrass, Southern Rock and Gospel ... Wade’s fingers move through the strings to create the sounds.
Billy Gibbons is a name in the Southern Rock music industry.
Gibbons judged a competition in the 1980s.
“I was fortunate enough to be chosen as the top guitarist in the competition,” Wade said.
Gibbons and Wade as well as the rest of the band named ZZ Top, jammed a little backstage that night.
One of Wade’s most prized possessions is “Maggie,” named after his mother, the 1984 Les Paul hangs as a shrine in the music store.
Wade had lost possession of the instrument at one point in his life, but was able to buy it back.
“A musical instrument becomes part of a person. It can define their character and help them grow. My goal is to share a love for music which helped mold myself and my ability to teach — keeping music and arts programs in our schools alive,” Wade said.