Music lovers understand that Leo Fender's revolutionary electric guitar has been the preferred choice of great musicians like Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, George Harrison, Jeff Beck, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and the list goes on. What they may not know is that the man whose name was synonymous with mind-blowing rock and roll was actually a very shy, down-to-earth person who was almost deaf and wore a glass eye.
Through Leo Fender: The Quiet Giant Heard Around the World, written by Leo's wife Phyllis and co-authored with Dr. Randall Bell, music lovers now have the opportunity to learn all about the eccentricities of this unassuming giant!
But what made him even more special is that his guitars were used by giants - spanning decades of music from Elvis to Eric Clapton to Jimi Hendrix to Keith Richards - all the greats of rock and roll! When Rolling Stone Magazine published a list of the world's top 100 guitarists, 90 of them used one of Leo's guitars - and the rest used guitars that basically copied Leo's invention.
While Fender guitars were recognized around the world, few people knew much about the man behind the legendary guitar.
Leo Fender grew up in California, where an interest in electronics led him to open up a radio repair shop in 1938. But he didn't just work on radios; his reputation earned him the respect of musicians and band leaders who trusted him to repair their equipment. As time went on he founded Fender Electric Instrument Manufacturing Company and later, G&L Musical Instruments.
Now, Leo's wife Phyllis, along with Randall Bell, Ph.D., give music fans a memory-filled look into the remarkable world of this quiet genius in their latest book, Leo Fender: The Quiet Giant Heard Around the World. Randall Bell also grew up in Leo's neighborhood and his father was the head of the R&D department at Fender's company.
While this quirky genius invented the electric guitar that helped produce fist-pumping rock and roll for music icons around the world, in reality this shy, unassuming inventor was nearly deaf and wore a glass eye. Leo was a workaholic and lived very simply. In fact, when he sold his company for $300 million, he was living in a trailer and continued to do so for some time. The book does a great job of showing the private side of this iconic genius, and what made him tick!
Fender's game-changing contributions to the music world have been widely recognized. He was presented with the Country Music Association Pioneer Award in 1981, and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Rock Walk of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His accomplishments were also acknowledged with a Technical Grammy Award in 2009.
Leo Fender died in 1991. Today, Phyllis Fender volunteers at the Fullerton Museum where she shares with visitors stories about her life with Leo. She also has held numerous positions at her church and serves as the Honorary Chairman of G&L Guitars, based in Fullerton, California.
Keith Richards, The Rolling Stones:
"When other companies made electric guitars, that is all they did. Leo had the whole concept in mind. He made an amplifier to match. It is, after all electric. This left the other guys with half an egg. So simple, so complete whether you prefer a stratocaster or a telecaster. If you used a Fender amp, you had the whole deal. Sturdy, reliable and beautifully made, they remain the standard that others strived to reach, let alone the BASS!!"
Rob Schilling, Host of WINA's The Schilling Show:
"As a longtime guitar player and the owner of many vintage Fender instruments and amplifiers, I was delighted to learn more about the man behind the legendary company. One of the "friendliest" signatures in the world comes to life in this amazing behind-the-scenes glimpse into the life of Leo Fender."
Eric Dahl, Maverick Magazine:
"Few names in the world of guitars are more recognized than Fender. If Leo had stopped after creating the Telecaster he would still hold a secure place in guitar history. Not only is he in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but Fender also received a Grammy Award, Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award and an ACM award ... . Phyllis and Randall are both obviously proud of the legacy that Leo left behind. This book reads more like a personal journal with family photos interspersed between touching moments. Leo Fender - The Quiet Giant Heard Around the World isn't a guitar book but if you're a fan of the man that invented them it is a must read!"
Matt Gibney, The Stratosphere:
"A must read for any person who has ever plugged into an amplifier or dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur. We get a unique view under the hood of the selfless utilitarian genius who worked tirelessly around the clock up until his final days to perfect the craft. Phyllis Fender takes us behind the scenes of the man who worked famously behind the scenes for 1 reason alone - to serve the musician. A true underdog story."
Vaughn Skow, Vintage Guitar Magazine:
"This short yet captivating book is required reading for any true Fender affectionado. While much has been written about the work of Clarence Leonidas "Leo" Fender, precious little has been written about Leo Fender the man. This book is a game changer."
Leadership Institute Press
Released: November 2017
Available at: http://amzn.to/2pyi34i
Clarence Leonidas "Leo" Fender (August 10, 1909 - March 21, 1991) was an American inventor who founded Fender Electric Instrument Manufacturing Company, or "Fender" for short. In January 1965, he sold the company to CBS and later founded two other musical instrument companies, Music Man and G&L Musical Instruments. Although electric guitars already existed and were introduced some 20 years before the Telecaster, Fender's model was revolutionary and quickly conquered the music world. A Fender guitar has something special - call it crunch, bite, twang - that makes it the guitar of choice for such virtuosos as Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimi Hendrix.
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