Iconic Phoenix store Ziggie’s Music has closed, possibly for good | Phoenix New Times

Iconic Phoenix store Ziggie’s Music has closed, possibly for good

A look back at the legendary Phoenix music store frequented by Duane Eddy and Waylon Jennings, which shut down at the end of May.
The exterior of Ziggie's Music in Phoenix.
The exterior of Ziggie's Music in Phoenix. Benjamin Leatherman
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Editor's note: This story was updated on June 27 with additional quotes and information.

Ziggie’s Music is a business that’s steeped in local history. The iconic Phoenix retailer dates back decades and has been a go-to spot for generations of musicians both local and nationally known, including famous names like Duane Eddy, Waylon Jennings and Dick Dale.

Now, the beloved store has become history. Ziggie’s Music shut down at the end of May due to health issues affecting longtime owner Dionne Hauke.

Megan Hauke, Dionne’s daughter, told Phoenix New Times via text message the closure is permanent. She says in addition to her mother’s health, issues with the property’s ownership and a downturn in business in recent years were also factors in the decision.

It’s the final chapter for a business that’s been a beloved Phoenix institution for decades.

Founded by Hauke’s grandfather, the late Angelo “Ziggie” Zardus, the store became renowned for its personal touch and musical instrument selection. The first Arizona store to sell Fender guitars, Ziggie’s Music has been a vital part of the Valley music scene and a gathering place for musicians.

Rikk Nielsen, a longtime employee of Ziggie's Music, says the store has earned its iconic status.

"It's been a big part of local music history," Nielsen says. "I don't know any musician off the top of my head who has played around town much who doesn't know about Ziggie's."

How Ziggie Zardus came to Phoenix

The history of Ziggie’s Music spans nearly a century and is closely tied to Zardus, its namesake and founder.

A Michigan native and professional accordion player, Zardus came to Phoenix in 1927 to visit his sister-in-law en route to California to play music for talkies. His granddaughter, Dionne Hauke, told Phoenix New Times in 2019 that Zardus found a reason to stay in the Valley.

“He’s sitting outside on Polk Street, over by the bus station, playing his accordion and this guy comes up and says, ‘Do you want a job?'” Hauke said.

It led Zardus to a gig playing accordion in a band performing at the Westward Ho and live broadcasts airing on KOY-AM.

“So right off the bus, Ziggie’s got a job playing on the radio,” Hauke told New Times. “He started getting offers to play weddings and barn dances, and to teach Little Johnny to play accordion. He said, ‘I’m staying.’”
click to enlarge A storefront.
The location of Ziggie's Music on Third Street south of Osborn Road.
Benjamin Leatherman

The origins of Ziggie’s Music

Zardus began putting down roots in the Valley. In the late 1930s, he offered accordion lessons at Dawson’s Accordion and Guitar Studio on West Adams Street. By the 1940s, though, he’d started renting space near Fourth Avenue and Washington Street.

According to Hauke, he eventually expanded to selling guitars at the location years later after meeting Leo Fender, the legendary founder of Fender Guitars.

“One day a guy comes in and says he’s making these guitars called Fenders, and he wonders if my grandfather wanted to sell some here,” Hauke told New Times in 2019. “So my grandfather became the first Fender dealer in Arizona, on a handshake.”

In the years following the Great Depression, Zardus purchased a home on Third Street. In the mid-1950s, his brother-in-law built an addition next door that became the longtime home of Ziggie’s Music.
click to enlarge A vintage photo of two men in a store.
Angelo “Ziggie” Zardus (left), founder of Ziggie's Music, with rock 'n' roll legend Duane Eddy (right), who purchased his famed Gretsch guitar at the shop.
Provided by John Dixon

Famous names and rock ’n’ roll rebels

Over the following decades, the store was patronized by many famous names, including such music icons as Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter, Dick Dale and Lee Hazelwood. (Hauke told New Times she once witnessed the late Sonny Bono in Ziggie’s Music speaking with her grandfather in Italian in the '60s.)

One of Ziggie’s most famous patrons was the legendary guitarist Duane Eddy. In 1957, the future Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and one-time Arizona resident purchased the orange Gretsch 6120 guitar he used to create the signature twang on his best-known hit “Rebel Rouser.”

John Dixon, an Arizona music historian, says Zardus reportedly let Eddy pay off the $450 guitar in installments. The gesture led to one of Arizona’s best-known rock ‘n’ roll songs.

“As the story goes, Duane didn't have the money to buy the guitar all at once, so Ziggie told him, 'This is the model you want? Just pay me every so often,’” Dixon says. “Duane's orange Gretsch he did ‘Rebel Rouser’ and all of his hits became so iconic it's now out at the (Musical Instrument Museum).”

Eddy became a Ziggie’s regular, as did his bassist, famed session musician Al Casey. Dixon says Casey conducted music lessons and recording sessions at the store for decades from the '80s onward and lived in the attached residence until he died in 2006.

“On Saturday afternoons, Al he'd have a jam session in his backyard and I'd go to a couple of those. I met some really good musicians there, like Alis Lesley,” Dixon says. “Ziggie’s was a connecting point for a lot of people.”
click to enlarge An old photo of two young men.
Rock 'n' roll legends and Ziggie's Music regulars Duane Eddy (left) and Al Casey (right).
Provided by John Dixon

'A real gathering place for musicians'

Dionne Hauke began running Ziggie’s in 1980 after Zardus died. She later inherited the store in 1989. Dixon says she ran it for decades with her late husband, Chuck.

“Normally, Dionne would work days and then Chuck would come in at night and do the guitar, amplifier and accordion repair,” Dixon says.

Nielsen says the couple kept the place focused on musicians and continued her grandfather’s traditions.

“I’ve had old-timers come in and tell me stories about how Dionne would help them out. Like, ‘You got to wait until your next check to pay for the guitar? Go ahead and pay me when you can,’” Nielsen says. “She did that all the time.”

Dionne tirelessly worked to preserve the store’s legacy and uniqueness. In 2013, she raised $2,340 through crowdfunding to restore Ziggie’s historic neon sign. And the store was one of the few music retailers in the U.S. that sold and serviced accordions.
click to enlarge
Ziggie's Music owner Dionne Hauke (right) and her late husband, Chuck.
Provided by John Dixon
Dixon described Ziggie’s as “a real gathering place for musicians” over the years.

“Whenever I’d go in, I’d see a lot of musicians there, just hanging out,” Dixon says.

Ziggie’s continued to offer music lessons through the decades. “In the old days, they had lessons day and night, seven days a week,” Hauke told New Times in 2019. “On Wednesdays, they went until 9 p.m. because they had so many students.”

In recent years, Ziggie’s was also hosted a popular musician’s swap meet one Saturday a month.

“That was a pretty big gathering of a lot of local musicians who would go down there to trade and sell and yak,” Dixon says. “It was just a fun place to be.”

Nielsen says Ziggie’s reputation as a musician-friendly joint is one of the reasons why the store became so beloved.

“Of all the local players I've met and a few of the national ones, I've never heard a bad word ever about the place or Dionne,” Nielsen says.

‘Things started to go downhill’

Nielsen admits Ziggie’s has experienced a downturn in recent years due to a decline in Dionne Hauke’s health and from increased competition from music chains like Guitar Center and online retailers.

“Things started to go downhill,” Nielsen says.

He says it's become harder to operate an independent music store in the age of Amazon.

“It used to be where when you went into Ziggie's, you dealt with Ziggie Zardus. That's mostly a thing of the past now in the age of chain stores, which are everywhere,” Nielsen says. “But the mom and pops are gradually going by the wayside. And it's really sad.”

Ziggie’s stayed open and persevered “basically because Dionne kept it alive and kept it going,” Nielsen says. Earlier this year, Hauke suffered a fall and was placed in managed care.

Nielsen says the store’s days were numbered after Hauke’s injury occurred.

“Dionne was the heart and soul of Ziggie’s,” he says.
click to enlarge A neon sign at night.
A 2015 photo of the historic neon sign at Ziggie's Music.
Benjamin Leatherman

The final chapter for Ziggie’s Music

The ownership of Ziggie’s Music is complicated, to say the least. In 2019, Hauke and the store were involved in a court battle with her cousins, who also inherited half of the store after Zardus’ death, over the store.

According to a crowdfunding campaign Dionne launched in 2019 to help pay for legal fees in the case, her cousins wanted to sell the Ziggie’s Music property “so they could ‘cash out.’”

The case went in Dionne Hauke’s favor, but only bought the store another few years.

In 2022, Dionne Hauke signed the deed to the property over to her daughter, Megan, according to Maricopa County records.

Megan Hauke told the New Times via text that her mother intended for her to inherit the property, but she doesn’t share the same passion for the store as her mom.

“I am not able to take over or run the business personally, nor do I honestly even want to do so,” Megan Hauke told New Times.

The state of the property and the store's recent financial troubles both contributed to her decision.

“What we have found is a pillaged, depleted, failing property inside with too many problems. and apparently the business itself was seemingly not very successful these past few years,” Megan Hauke told New Times. “The value is gone for me, and, for others in the Ziggie's community, it seems to only be a nostalgic value more than anything possibly lasting into the future.”

Ultimately, she believes the store is done.

“Unless somebody else entirely were to take over the Ziggie’s business name and take over the business away from me entirely, I have no recourse but to say it's probably the end of Ziggies,” Megan Hauke told New Times.

No details were given regarding a possible sale of the property or business. As for its historic neon sign, she says it will be given to a member of the Zardus family or donated to the Musical Instrument Museum.

Editor's note: This story has been updated since its original publication.
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