Chris Meikle, senior vice president, sales and marketing, St. Louis Music, might have been a chef today if he did not pick the music route.
The Music & Sound Retailer: Who was your greatest influence or mentor and why?
Chris Meikle: I’ve never really had one mentor, but of course, many people have influenced me. I can be influenced by anything that catches the imagination, a comment or attitude, or witnessing creativity, kindness or a moment of brilliance. I think being open to influence is really important. With regards to my career, I guess my father was a huge influence. He taught me to work hard and face the music.
The Retailer: What was the best advice you ever received?
Meikle: I’ve heard a lot over the years, but one I love is something Mr. Yairi [Kazuo Yairi, former master luthier, Alvarez, and former owner and president of the Yairi Guitar Co.] told me: “Perfection is a journey, not a destination.” This is great advice for business, product development, life, anything. He was a strong and calm person and knew that commitment and dedication were the best vehicles for achievement.
The Retailer: What was your first experience with a musical instrument?
Meikle: My three uncles were in a band called Arbre in the UK in the 1970s. They were signed to a record label and released a couple of albums, so music was always part of family parties since I can remember. Without doubt, banging on an acoustic guitar is my earliest memory.
The Retailer: What instrument do you most enjoy playing?
Meikle: Acoustic guitar, but I always wish I could play piano too.
The Retailer: Tell us something about yourself that others do not know or would be surprised to learn.
Meikle: When I was 18, I left my home in the North East of England and flew to the Arctic Circle. I lived there for three months and experienced life with Inuit Indians. The trip spurred me to continue traveling and see the world. I returned home when I was 21 after traveling through North America, Australasia and parts of Asia. I didn’t realize it then, but those experiences shaped my outlook forever, and I’m really pleased I did it.
The Retailer: What’s your favorite activity to do when you’re not at work?
Meikle: I have two daughters. They are like best friends, and hanging out with them is fantastic. Other than that, I play guitar and write.
The Retailer: What is the best concert you’ve ever been to?
Meikle: I saw U2 in 1989 on the “Love Comes to Town” tour in a small, outdoor athletics park in Wellington, New Zealand. It was a summer evening, and the crowd was so into it. On top of that, B.B. King was the support act. It was a truly amazing night.
The Retailer: If you could see any musician, alive or deceased, play a concert for one night, who would it be and why?
Meikle: John Lennon. Not only for his music, but I sometimes wonder what he would have made of the modern world, politics, the internet, etc. I feel his opinion might be one we could do with from time to time.
The Retailer: What musician are you hoping to see play in the near future?
Meikle: I was going to see Michael Kiwanuka last month, but it was canceled and rescheduled for September, so I’m looking forward to that.
The Retailer: What song was most memorable for you throughout your childhood, and what do you remember about it the most?
Meikle: The first single I bought was “Mr. Blue Sky” by ELO. I wore that record out. I love everything about it, especially when the instrumental kicks in toward the end.
The Retailer: What are your favorite songs on your smartphone/iPod?
Meikle: I have so many, but any songs from The Beatles’ “Revolver” album or Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” always seem to be perfect for the moment.
The Retailer: What’s the most fun thing you saw/did at a NAMM Show?
Meikle: I love everything about NAMM. The setup, the meetings, the dinners, talking with and seeing old friends. The whole week is a perk of being in this industry, and every year I come away from it feeling more inspired.
The Retailer: If you had to select three people, past or present, to have dinner with, who would they be and what would you ask them?
Meikle: Nelson Mandela: I’d ask him how he survived and never lost faith in what he believed in. Marvin Gaye: I’d ask him how he had the vision to make “What’s Going On” and how a pop star could make an amazing, socially aware album in which every word can still resonate today and every day since it was made. Winston Churchill: I’d ask him how you make the hardest decisions in your life with clarity and confidence, where the belief comes from and the strength to stand by them.
The Retailer: Tell us about your most memorable experience with an MI retailer (without naming them).
Meikle: Ha … I once gave a buyer my business card, and as we started talking, he scrunched it up in his hand and pushed it across the desk. Ha-ha … I guess I made a good impression.
The Retailer: What is the best thing about the MI industry?
Meikle: I like the fact you can have two CEOs sitting having a meeting, one is wearing an Italian suit, the other has a ponytail and is wearing a biker jacket, and it’s totally normal.
The Retailer: Who do you admire most outside of the music industry and why?
Meikle: There are a lot of truly committed people in this industry; genuine people who are passionate about education and bettering society. I love that, and it’s probably not something you’ll readily see in many other industries.
The Retailer: What technology could change MI down the road?
Meikle: I think the internet will continue to bring convenience to the industry, and the lockdown due to the coronavirus may have accelerated that, with more online music lessons and options of how to shop and collect your purchases. Business technology will no doubt improve service levels, and I’m sure developments in manufacturing will continue to help us make better-quality products.
The Retailer: If you weren’t in the music industry, what would you be doing and why?
Meikle: I’m not that good at it, but I love cooking and I love food. Being a successful chef sounds appealing.
The Retailer: Tell us about your hometown and why you enjoy living there.
Meikle: My hometown is Durham in the North East of England, and although I spend a lot of time away, it’s always been my home, because family and friends are there. It’s a small, historic university city with a 900-year-old Norman cathedral and caste perched on two hills in the center of town. Stunning little place with great people.
The Retailer: What are your most prized possession(s) and why?
Meikle: I’m not really into possessions. I don’t collect or hoard anything and travel pretty light. I have a couple guitars I always play, which are an Alvarez and a Yairi. And apart from that, my focus is family.
The Retailer: What’s your favorite book and why?
Meikle: I don’t have a favorite, but for sure, some children’s books bring back great memories with the kids. Other than that, I enjoy business and marketing reads, and some biographies.
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