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Leo Fender Would Have Been 103 Today

Yesterday, I mistakenly set out to write a post about Paul Robeson’s birthday, which isn’t for eight months. I had the good sense (if I do say so myself) of posting the clip I had selected before I discovered my mistake. Today, though, I got it right. I found out (through a posting at DailyKos) that it is the 103rd birthday of Clarence Leonidas “Leo” Fender, the inventor of the Telecaster and the Stratocaster. He, along with Les Paul, essentially made rock-and-roll possible.

Here is a terrific and suitably adoring profile of the Telecaster. There is a lot of great guitar squeezed into the clip, which seems to be part of a longer video. This clip features Albert Lee, Steve Cropper, James Burton, Keith Richards, Sue Foley, Redd Volkaert, Jerry Donahue, Chantel McGregor, John 5 (who I guess is a better guitarist than John 4 but not quite as good as John 6), Deborah Coleman, Wilko Johnson, Jeff Beck, GE Smith and Greg Koch. The video has the URL www.stratmasters.com superimposed on top, but the domain is vacant.

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Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.


The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.