Hard to believe, but the Fender Stratocaster, which changed pop music, now is 60. The solid-body electric guitar was built in 1954 by Leo Fender, George Fullerton and Freddie Tavares at their small California shop. Buddy Holly was an early fan of Fender’s futuristic looking guitar, which he showed off on his first album with the Crickets in 1957.
The revolutionary Fender Telecaster was first produced in 1951.
Part of Fender’s success came from the print ads devised by Bob Perine, who attended the Chouinard Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles and went on to open his own ad agency in Orange County in the 1950s. Bob devised a series of clever ads that showed young people carrying Fender guitars while surfing, skydiving, riding motorcycles and being at the beach. Bob also redesigned the Fender logo. When Bob Dylan walked out on stage in 1965 at the Newport folk music festival, carrying a 1964 Fender Strat and began playing rock music with a band — he was booed at the time — the world would never be the same again. A few years later, Jimi Hendrix lit his Stratocaster on fire at the Monterey Pop Festival.
Here’s a short history of the Fender Telecaster guitar:
I founded the Chouinard Foundation with Bob Perine in 1999. Bob was an unassuming if innovative designer of the era. His Fender ads are now legendary. He described to me how he used his kids’ friends in Laguna Beach to model for many of the ads, and as well, he designed the current, modern Fender logo now in use. I went with him once to the Universal Citywalk where the giant Fender Strat sits in front of the Hard Rock Cafe. I asked him how it felt to design something that became so iconic. He shrugged his shoulders and just said he was having fun and didn’t do it for the money. He liked Leo Fender and Don Randall and the work they were doing.
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