Happy Birthday Leo Fender
The man behind the sound...happy birthday without you music just wouldnt be the same
Leo Fender at 100
An essay on Fender’s founder and a legacy that, a century after his birth, is stronger than ever
Photo by Robert Perine
Monday, Aug. 10, 2009, marks the 100th birthday of Leo Fender (1909-1991). Perhaps alone among the names of great 20th century instrument makers and innovators, his is well known even to a great many who don’t play guitar (as in fact he didn’t). His life and work have been documented in exacting detail in many volumes, and his very name has become a cultural icon. Hence, while Leo Fender certainly needs no introduction, consider the following a centennial appreciation …
Seldom can worldwide cultural shift be attributed to a single individual, but such is the case with Leo Fender.
Clarence Leonidas “Leo” Fender, born Aug. 10, 1909, in a barn on his parents’ ranch straddling the border between Fullerton and Anaheim, Calif., founded the Fender Electric Instrument Company in 1946 in Fullerton. From 1946 to 1965 he led what was perhaps the most brilliant creative streak in the history of electric instrument design and manufacturing.
Among his many monumental accomplishments, he designed the first commercially successful solid-body electric guitar, the Telecaster®; invented the solid-body electric bass guitar (by itself an instrument that transformed popular music) and introduced the most influential of all electric guitars—the Stratocaster®. His amplifiers set the gold standard for tone and reliability against which virtually all amps are still judged well more than half a century later.
Leo Fender’s ideas have had an incalculable effect on popular music of all styles and on the much broader fabric of popular culture. His instruments and amplifiers helped change the way musicians work with their tools, facilitated new sounds and techniques, and helped revolutionize the way the entire industry designs and builds instruments. Most significantly, they helped ignite entirely new and tremendously exciting styles of music. More than fine musical instruments, Fender guitars and amps are powerful cultural icons recognized in every corner of the world.
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Happy Birthday Leo. Can we stop making the Billy Squire line. Does he even make music any more. LOL
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