Silver Street, Inc. was incorporated in June 1979, founded by brothers Bruce and Craig Hardy. The new enterprise was named after the Elkhart, IN street on which Bruce lived at the time of incorporation.
Silver Street commenced manufacture of “Deadringer” Drum Mufflers in November 1979. Subsequent products included the microphone stand Pick-Clip (the first pick holder, later copied by Dunlop), a line of drum cases and other combo accessories.
In 1981, after returning from the Music Messe in Frankfurt Germany, Bruce designed the TAXI. It was a full scale guitar with a gig bag and shoulder strap that could easily be transported in a city taxi. The TAXI’s innovative design was the subject of a U.S. patent application filed in 1981 and granted in 1983. As the years passed, Bruce was granted nine additional patents for guitar- and drum-related products.
Five pre-production TAXI prototypes were built by legendary luthier Richard Schneider who was then a Kalamazoo, MI resident and Gibson guitar consultant. Mr. Schneider (1936-1997) was a masterful and greatly respected luthier. In a long-term collaboration with Michael Kasha, he developed various innovative designs to enhance the sound quality of classical guitars. Schneider and Kasha also designed and developed Gibson’s MARK Series acoustic guitars. (See photo below.)
Subsequent Silver Street models included the Spitfire, Cobra and MX designed by Bruce Hardy and the ensuing Nightwing, Tommy Shaw and Elite. All models were offered in several configurations featuring various pickups, available custom paint and optional hardware. The MSRPs for Silver Street guitars ranged from $449.00 for a single-pickup TAXI model to $889.00 for a basic Elite model. Actual retail or street prices are not known. Silver Street’s manufacturing facility was relocated to Shelby, MI in 1983. Production ended by 1986 and the company’s facilities were subsequently devoted to the manufacture of high-quality library furniture.
The March 2018 issue of Vintage Guitar magazine contained a five-page feature article by Michael Wright that covered the Silver Street story in considerable detail.
Silver Street Trivia
– The first guitar Silver Street made for Tommy Shaw was a TAXI model in Pepto-Bismol Pink; it was created prior to the debut of the Tommy Shaw model.
– Notable artists who played the TAXI included Michael Stanley – The Michael Stanley Band, Chris Hayes – Huey Lewis and the News, Mike Reno – Loverboy, Paul Warren – Prism. Rick Springfield bought three and used one on a MTV video.
– Notable artists who played the Spitfire included Jonathan Cain – Journey, Chris Hayes – Huey Lewis and the News, Don Barnes – 38 Special and David Huff – David and the Giants.
– Notable artists who played the Cobra included Jack Charles – Quarterflash (Candy Apple Red and White Pearl examples), Jeff Carlisi – 38 Special and Henry Small – Prism (see Beat Street album cover).
– Only one prototype TAXI bass was produced. Originally yellow, it was refinished in red for a television appearance.
– Only one left-handed TAXI was produced, with a white finish. It was made for Elliot Easton – The Cars and now resides with an owner in Kalamazoo, MI.
– The offset dot fret markers on Silver Street guitars were inspired by Gibson’s 1981-debut Victory line of solid-body electric guitars and basses.