(⇐ Me with a “Strat” at age 14) I often refer to music, especially composing and songwriting, as “my other love.” Like many musicians, I started out playing in bands. And, although I play keyboards a little (mostly when composing and recording), it all began with guitars. To me as a teenager, electric guitars were the most sacred of all objects in the temple of rock ‘n’ roll, and not far behind them were amplifiers–if guitars were the Ten Commandments, amplifiers were the Ark of the Covenant which (very loudly) carried forth their sacred message.
Interestingly, the first electric guitar was patented on this date in 1937. But more importantly, Leo Fender, founder of Fender Instruments, was born on the very same date 28 years earlier in 1909. Leo didn’t invent the electric guitar. But the moment he saw one, he knew it was his destiny. He and his team were the first to figure out how to take electric guitars beyond the limited edition novelty stage to that of affordable, mass produced musical instruments. By the 1960s, Fender guitars, especially the iconic Stratocasters (see photo) and amps had become the universal symbols of rock, the consecrated instruments favored by nearly every “guitar god” in the pop cosmos! (Gibson’s Les Pauls are a close second.)
Even more interestingly (to me), Leo Fender built his factory in Fullerton, California, just minutes away from where I grew up. As a teenager, I would drive by it in reverence. After all, it was my Mecca! I even altered my handwriting that year to match the unique cursive used in the Fender logo — and still sign my name that way!
Nowadays, I’m up to my proverbial eyeballs in my other loves, writing and filmmaking. But I still find tremendous satisfaction in writing music and songs for my movies.
One final note: Something even more sacred to me than guitars was “made” in Fullerton, California, just a few years after the first Stratocasters came out: