"The Birth of Loud” by Ian S. Port is a great read, and at times draws you in like a potboiler, chronicling the race to invent a solid body electric guitar.
Paul Bigsby, Les Paul and Leo Fender were all on the forefront of that history as allies, friends, and sometimes bitter competitors. Unexpected details abound—Paul Bigsby is shown as a dedicated inventor, Les Paul’s car crash is charged with drama, and the career and personal dynamics between him and Mary Ford were fascinating. I didn’t know Leo Fender had a glass eye and was deaf in one ear. The book was laced with fascinating tidbits throughout. Mr Port really brings the story to life.
After that, the book segues into the next wave,“Loud,” when artists used their solid body guitars for things no one could have envisioned.
Dick Dale’s importance is chronicled—I didn’t know the Dual Showman amp was invented for him. Eric Clapton’s Les Paul and Marshall, Hendrix and his Stratocaster, and other historically crucial rigs are all covered with a fresh perspective, to name just a few.
I highly recommend “The Birth of Loud” to anyone interested in electric guitars and rock & roll history—including anyone who thinks they’ve read it all before. I thought I knew the whole story, but I was pleasantly surprised up to the last page.
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