Leo Fender 100th Birthday Anniversary
Clarence Leonidas Fender (August 10, 1909 – March 21, 1991), was a Greek-American inventor who founded Fender Electric Instrument Manufacturing Company, now known as Fender Musical Instruments Corporation. After selling Fender Instrument in 1965 to the CBS Corporation, he later founded MusicMan and G&L Musical Products (G&L Guitars). His guitar, bass, and amplifier designs from the 1950s continue to dominate popular music more than half a century later. Many other guitar and amplifier companies have used Fender instruments as the foundation of their products.
Leo Fender is often cited as one of the most influential figures in the development of electric instruments in the 20th century. August 10, 2009 is the 100th anniversary of his birth. He died in 1991 and is survived by his second wife, Phyllis Fender.
Leo Fender’s enormous effect on music worldwide is simple to describe — music simply would not sound the way it does today without him. His revered classics of design; the Telecaster®, Stratocaster®, Precision Bass® and Jazz Bass® guitars changed the way that music was performed and recorded by the entire world.
It’s difficult to overstate Mr. Fender’s impact on the music industry. Leo altered the look, the sound, and the personality of music around the world. Yet, it would be hard to imagine a man of more common appearance or one more modest and unassuming. Long time Fender employee, the late Freddie Tavares said, “He never wore any kind of clothes that you’d expect a person in his position to wear. People didn’t have the slightest idea he was any kind of a wheel. I would have to point him out to someone who didn’t know him. ‘See that man over there? He owns everything.””
Leo Fender never drank nor smoked and, outside of his work, had few close friends. He had no children. “His guitars and amps, those were his kids” one associate is quoted as saying about him. He was described by more than one person as something of a recluse. While he dabbled in photography, liked to play pinochle, and owned an expensive boat, his only true hobby, perhaps his obsession, was his work. He was a man of few words. He did not play guitar.
Yet the world of guitars owes everything to the contributions of one man, Leo Fender. Happy 100th Birthday Mr. Fender. We all celebrate your life and will for another 100 years to come.