An avid music lover his entire life, local native Alden “Junior” Wilson has been surrounded by the art form before he could even understand what is was or the impact it would have on his life. Still performing on a weekly basis, recording original music and repairing guitars from his home on South East Front Street, Wilson has continued his love of music over a lifetime of experiences.
As a boy growing up in the Milford ares, Junior remembers being introduced to his first instrument, the steel guitar, at the age of 5. His parents, both being musicians, decided to share their love of music with Junior as early as possible. Not long after he began learning to play music in the mid 50’s his Dad started stocking various string sets and parts.
“My bedroom closet was stuffed with string sets, bars, tuners, capos and picks,” commented Junior. “Guitar, banjo, mandolin and steel guitar cases were in the corners and under my bed. Other cases filled the sun parlor area of our home.”
Around 1958 Junior’s Dad built a small music store above his work shop across the road from their house between Lincoln and Ellendale. The store expanded to carry various string instruments and drum sets and by the early 60’s Wilson’s Music Store was opened at 8 Walnut Street in downtown Milford. Along with fine used instruments the store carried some inexpensive new instruments, drums, drum sticks, reeds for horns, microphones and various amps. Over the next several years Wilson’s Music Store became franchised dealers for Fender and Epiphone and later added C.F. Martin, Rickenbacker, Vox & Hofner.
“Our store was a very social place,” commented Wilson. “Your friends and you would always hang out there and talk. It was a popular meeting place for players of all types.”
By 1965 the store opened a second location on Lockerman Street in Dover and had plans to expand to Laurel, Delaware and Cambridge, Maryland. In 1969 Junior’s father had a stroke that incapacitated him and Junior took over both location. With his bed ridden father not doing well, Junior decided to close the store in Dover and moved all the inventory to the Milford location.
By the late 70’s he was tired of the retail music business and converted much of the Milford store into a recording studio, keeping the front as a small store, repair shop and teaching area. During that time the shop recorded over 178 radio jingles, records and demos. Junior was also active in touring the Mid-Atlantic Region and traveled to shows in West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York with his band to perform.
“I still miss that, it was a lot of fun,” commented Junior when asked about his days on the road touring. “The people that would travel to see you from town to town, that extended family on the road, made it feel like home.”
Around 1985 Junior sold the Wilson’s Music building at 8 South Walnut Street and put a small repair shop in my home at 506 S.E. Front St., mainly to service his regular customers’ instruments and his own. It was to be a supplemental business for Junior’s performing but the store wound up doing over 1,500 repairs a year over the next few years.
Coming full circle in a life filled with music, Wilson still performs weekly and performs repairs daily, providing the service for many of the stores in the Delmarva area. He maintains a rather loyal client base for his repair work and currently performs weekly at local venues with his solo musical act and his band The Movies.
“Music to me is about imagination,” commented Wilson. “There are so many styles and types of music. You can play one instrument for a lifetime and never discover it all.”
Junior and the Wilson family have influenced the music community for generations and continue to shape music in the region today. To find out more information about Junior Wilson, his band The Movies and Wilson’s Music Shop visit www.jrwilsonmusic.com.