By: Renee Grant
Leo Fender is a legendary name in the music world. The icon invented the electric guitar while owning a radio repair shop in California. Musicians and band leaders originally came to him to fix their equipment, so it was only fitting that he become the master of modern rock n’ roll music by inventing its most recognized sound.
Notably, while Fender’s name is synonymous with raucous rock, Fender himself was nearly deaf and had one glass eye.
In 1946, he founded Fender Electric Instrument Manufacturing Company, and later G&L Musical Instruments.
Fender’s revolutionary guitar, the Fender Stratocaster, has been the preference of beloved musicians like Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, David Gilmour, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, and Jeff Beck.
Now, Fender’s wife Phyllis has written a book titled Leo Fender: The Quiet Giant Heard Around the World. The book is co-written by Randall Bell, Ph.D, who grew up in Fender’s neighborhood and whose father was the head of the R&D department at Fender’s company.
Fender has been celebrated through the years for his contributions to music, earning a Country Music Association Pioneer award in 1981, an induction into the Country Music and Rock and Roll halls of fame, and a Technical Grammy Award in 2009. Fender died in 1991.
Phyllis Fender volunteers at the Fullerton Museum where she shares with visitors stories about her life with Leo. She also serves as the Honorary Chairman of G&L.