The Daily Beat: United breaks guitars, makes Dave Carroll semi-famous

Aug 23

The Daily Beat: United breaks guitars, makes Dave Carroll semi-famous

Airlines have been responsible for all kinds of music-related havoc over many years. Lots of stories out there about musicians landing without instruments or luggage. Back in the ’80s, folksinger Tom Paxton wrote “Thank You Republic Airlines” in response to a broken guitar.
But United Airlines got all the publicity back in 2009, when Canadian singer/songwriter Dave Carroll’s “United Breaks Guitars,” a heartfelt protest song and video, was the YouTube sensation of the moment. Carroll wrote the song after United baggage handlers smashed his $3500 710 Taylor guitar on the tarmac in Chicago. That loss, along with the ensuing nightmare of attempting to file a claim with United, led Carroll to write the catchy song and make this cute video, which has had more than 12 million views:

There’s a second video and a third, and a book, and Carroll now does speaking tours on the subject of customer service and social media. He and his band, the Sons of Maxwell, now get bigger and better gigs. The story of how Carroll and his associates leveraged the event to make him famous is a fascinating one. The big break (pun not intended, but I’ll take it) can come from the strangest of places.

And as a bonus: solid advice on how to defend your instruments in-flight, as provided by the League of American Orchestras – good stuff even if you’re a one-man band.

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