REMEMBERING LEO FENDER: On this day, March 21st, in 1991, Leo Fender, died from Parkinson’s disease. Clarence Leonidas “Leo” Fender 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.
The guitars, bass guitars, and amplifiers he designed from the 1940s on are still relevant: the Fender Telecaster (1950) was the first mass-produced solid-body electric guitar; the Fender Stratocaster (1954) is among the world’s most iconic electric guitars; the Fender Precision Bass (1951) set the standard for electric bass guitars, and the Fender Bassman amplifier, popular enough in its own right, became the basis for later amplifiers (notably by Marshall and Mesa Boogie) that dominated rock and roll music. Leo Fender was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992 – a unique achievement given that he never learned to play the instruments that he made a career of building.