A Store Strikes A Chord

Wannabe rock stars--and a few real ones--are driving Guitar Center's crescendo

In the 1998 film Velvet Goldmine, the ex-wife of a '70s glam rocker declares "how essential dreaming is to the character of the rock star." In 2003 the dream seems more easily realized than ever. Today fame feels within almost anyone's reach, thanks to TV talent shows like American Idol and new digital recording technologies, which allow the humblest garage band to own a home music studio.

To fuel the nation's pop-star fantasies, there is Guitar Center. The country's largest retailer of musical instruments, with 113 stores in 30 states, Guitar Center provides the teeming ranks of wannabe musicians with guitars,...

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