Tatum Music Company was opened for business on August 15, 1948 at East Tyler Street by Alto Tatum, former band director of the award-winning Gladewater High School band. The "General", as he was called by his colleagues, began to call on school band programs in the Eastern Texas area to meet the needs he had as a band director.
West's Melody Shop was the location Mr. Tatum bought to open Tatum Music Company. It had been owned and operated by the former Longview High School band director Welborne West. Mr. West's store sold records, record players, sheet music, and a few band instrument accessories. Mr. Tatum changed the focus of the store to band instruments and repairs, and in January of 1949, he had G.A. Sailor set up the repair department in Tatum Music Company. Prior to this time the nearest repair facilities were in Shreveport, Dallas, and Houston, Texas. Tatum Music remained at the original West's Melody Shop location for about seven years.
Tatum Music Company moved to 305 North Center Street in Longview, Texas in 1955 and remained in that location until 1981 for a total of 26 years. On July 1, 1969, Tatum Music Company became Tatum Music Company, Incorporated when Neil Grant, former award-winning band director at Troup, Nacogdoches, White Oak, and Longview, Texas, came to the music store as a partner with Alto Tatum. Alto Tatum served as the President, his wife as Vice-President, and Neil Grant as the Secretary-Treasurer. The record and record player part of the business was discontinued in 1970 to focus more on the band instrument industry.
Alto Tatum gained much of his knowledge and influence in the school band industry by owning interests in three other music companies at nine different locations. In 1967 Alto Tatum purchased from the former Brook Mays Music Company the second Tatum Music location in Tyler, Texas. The store was located at 305 West Erwin Street until December of 1980 when it moved to its current location at 325 East Front Street in Tyler. The numerous and diverse locations helped create the buying influence that Tatum Music Company enjoys today.
Tatum Music Company. Inc.'s main office moved to its current location at 301 North High Street in Longview, Texas on February 1, 1981. Alto Tatum retired from the store in January 2000 and Neil Grant became the sole proprietor and president of the operation. Neil Grant's oldest son Doice Grant , also a former outstanding band director from Carthage, and Center, Texas joined the store in 1992 as a school road representative and in 2004 became part owner and vice-president of Tatum Music Company, Inc. The store remains a positive influence in the school band and combo business by offering top quality band instruments, accessories, repair service, and complimentary band clinics by the knowledgeable Tatum Music Company staff.