The Fender Archives: A Scrapbook of Artifacts, Treasures, and Inside Information

Hal Leonard Books is proud to announce The Fender Archives by Tom Wheeler.  In his introduction, Tom describes this unique book which looks at the company from the inside out.  Featuring handwritten letters, production totals, personal logbooks, in-house memos, and much more, The Fender Archives tells the Fender story like never before.

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At the Heart of American Music

Welcome to The Fender Archives. You are invited along on a research expedition, a sort of archeological dig through several sites: well-organized file folders in Fender’s Scottsdale, Arizona, headquarters; the family archives of Don Randall; author/curator Richard Smith’s extensive collections at the Fullerton Museum Center and Fullerton Public Library; the photo galleries of John Peden and Fretted Americana; jammed-to-the-brim metal cabinets in a sweltering Fender warehouse near the Corona factory; and the sunny, art-filled home of the late Bob Perine in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, just blocks from the beach where he and Ned Jacoby took now-iconic photos of clean-cut high-school kids, surfboards, palm trees, and chrome-clad rocketship guitars in Shoreline Gold and Daphne Blue and Candy Apple Red.

This book is part history, part archive, part scrapbook, and for some of us, part treasure chest. In a few cases I offer reconsiderations of familiar topics—the origin of the Telecaster, the iconic imagery of Fender’s mid-’60s promo literature, the dark age of CBS, etc.—but for the most part I resisted the temptation to launch into explanations of facts and perceptions I’ve already shared, and others have shared, in numerous books and magazines. I wrote many articles about Fender during my fourteen years at Guitar Player (the Stratocaster alone received a three-installment series and a mult-part cover story, as well as columns by Robb Lawrence, George Gruhn, and others). I had already written extensively about the Fullerton company in The Guitar Book and American Guitars before tackling lengthy hardcover books devoted exclusively to Fender: The Stratocaster Chronicles (280 pages, 225 photos); The Soul of Tone: Celebrating 60 Years of Fender Amps (512 pages, 430 photos), and The Dream Factory: Fender Custom Shop (592 pages, 600 photos).

So the aim here is not to introduce Fender but rather to revisit it, to go behind now-familiar facts, images, and assumptions and shed new light on the inspirations for these revolutionary instruments and amplifiers, their sometimes difficult births and growing pains, the environment into which they were unleashed upon the world, and the motivations and personalities of key players.

Aside from celebrating the amps and guitars that separated the company from its rivals, The Fender Archives looks at the company from the inside out. Leo Fender’s drawing-board sketches and his penciled notations analyzing the costs of his guitars’ every screw and string ferrule, Don Randall’s revealing handwritten letters imploring Leo to evolve prototypes into production models, Freddie Tavares’ hyper-detailed personal logbooks, in-house memos, and financial reports—such documents are freed here from long confinement in steel-gray filing cabinets and nearly forgotten cardboard boxes, dusted off, and promoted from background to spotlight.

Other items include historic patents, memos debating marketing strategies and product design, a 1946 contract setting up Leo Fender’s first distributorship, and a 1964 report from investment consultants to CBS recommending that while the famed guitar company would be a promising acquisition, Leo Fender himself should be nudged aside in favor of a new breed of buttoned-down corporate managers. Never intended to see the light of day, these documents provide new frames of reference. Several are supplemented with excerpts from my interviews with past and current Fender employees and also with Doc Kauffman, Merle Travis, Ted McCarty, and others.

As Fender CEO Larry Thomas says in these pages: “Fender, it’s not about the guitar. It’s about the music. The guitar helps you to get there; it’s about the emotional connection. Fender is at the heart of American music.” Indeed, Fender is more than a brand. The name conjures an edgy, fuel-injected attitude toward creating and performing music that was born in the late 1940s in small-town Fullerton, California, a place of orange groves and oil wells where Hawaiian music met country, and Western met swing.

In the surrounding metro community, America’s post-war economy was being invigorated by the roll-up-your-sleeves, can-do attitudes of returning World War II G.I.s; the mechanical intuition of suburban toolshed tinkerers; and the brainy enthusiasm of aerospace engineers in horn-rims and short- sleeved shirts communing with their slide rules and looking toward the moon. It was the site of America’s first commercial drag strip, and a place where Detroit auto designers came to tap into the hotrod/speedway esthetic when dreaming up what came to be called muscle cars. Like other American cities, Fullerton felt the comfort of “I Like Ike” and Father Knows Best morphing into the zing and zest of Camelot and Carnaby Street; it felt the rock-ribbed red, white, and blue traditions of thrift and economy merging with the fashion and futurism of a Jet Age rapidly

evolving into a Space Age. It was Southern California, a state of mind as much as a geographical location, home to Hollywood, West Coast Cool, the Magic Kingdom, and Tomorrowland. The sun, surf, and tire-smoking hotrod vibe fueled its own twist on a nationwide phenomenon, as pop met a feisty blend of roadhouse blues and hillbilly bop soon to be dubbed “rock and roll.”

Thrown together by the fates, aspects of these seemingly random, combustible elements would tangle and mingle at the Fender flashpoint, ultimately igniting new musical styles, new attitudes, and new cultures across Orange County, across America, across the world. It all happened in ways no one could have predicted.

History, chronicle, scrapbook—perhaps in some way The Fender Archives is also part memoir. While readers of any of my books will get a hint of my perspectives and tastes, this one is more intimate. It reflects more of my personal experience with Fender instruments, a reimagining of musical possibilities during my own formative years, and my scores of conversations with the people who founded the company, resurrected it, and carry it forward.

Many of my tastes and viewpoints are shared by the global guitar community, of course—we revere our Telecasters and Deluxe Reverbs—but the emphasis here on, say, early and mid-’60s Fender lore admittedly reflects one impressionable teenager’s fascination with a world of gleaming, swoop-body guitars and a distant Southern California as evoked by visionary marketers and an arty photographer with photogenic daughters, a bitchin’ T-Bird convertible, and ready access to the beach.

I approached my previous books the way any historian works, sifting and prioritizing facts and attempting to provide context. I’ve done the same here, while also acting as a sort of museum curator—selecting and arranging artifacts so as to let them speak for themselves, sometimes emphatically. In addition to text and photos, dozens of artifacts are embraced here in envelopes and sleeves, some chosen for historical value, others for dazzle, nostalgia, or sheer fun. A note on organization: the Table of Contents is merely a listing of major topics; dozens of subtopics are scattered throughout in scrapbook fashion.

I believe that taken together, these bits and pieces reveal new insights into what Leo Fender and his colleagues and descendants contributed and continue to contribute to guitar, to music, and to world culture. Putting this book together revealed many new insights for me while evoking a flood of memories. Perhaps it will do the same for you.

—Tom Wheeler

Listen: Curtain Call with John Martin

Curtain Call host Charles Sepos chats with John Martin about his new book In Character: Opera Portraiture.

>>LISTEN HERE<<

In Character_Cover_9X12_with index.inddIn Character: Opera Portraiture memorably captures operatic performers away from the audience but fully inhabiting their roles. It showcases the work of John F. Martin, who for years set up a portable studio in the basement of the San Francisco Opera and photographed the players – in costume and full makeup – right before or after they took the stage. The subjects range from nonsinging supernumeraries through chorus members and comprimarii to opera’s greatest stars, such as Anna Netrebko, Natalie Dessay, Deborah Voigt, Juan Diego Flórez, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky. Their roles run the gamut of opera personalities: heroes and heroines, villains and outcasts, royalty and common folk, Biblical figures and creatures of myth. Facing Martin’s camera, each artist projects the essence of his or her character, however great or small the part.

The book also features a foreword by author Amy Tan; a preface by David Gockley, general director of the San Francisco Opera; essays on opera behind the scenes, the vital role of costumes, and the transformation of singers into characters; and an interview with world-renowned soprano Danielle de Niese. A collection unlike any other, In Character will have broad appeal-to opera and theater buffs, costume and fashion aficionados, and anyone who appreciates fine art photography.

4 Steps To Improve your chances for a successful music career

Bobby Borg, author of Music Marketing for the DIY Musician, whips up some more wisdom in this article from Echoes!

 

In my 15 years of teaching and consulting, I couldn’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard a young musician say, “I just do what I do, and if anyone likes it, they’ll buy it.

“My reply? Congratulations, you’re a true artist.”

But as you get a little older and your responsibilities increase with a mortgage, spouse, and kids, this attitude is dangerous unless you have another source of income or you’re just a hobbyist. Make no mistake, music is an art, but having a successful music career and making money at it is a serious business.

What follows are a few tips that might help improve your chances for having a successful music career without compromising your integrity.

Have a clear vision

Success starts with a vision – and a vision statement. A vision statement is a declaration of where you’d like your career to be in seven to ten years down the road. With this defined and in place, it’s far easier to map out the directions for how you’re going to get to your desired destination.

A vision statement summarizes what you are truly passionate about, and includes everything from the type of music you’d like to create, the products you might release, and the overall brand image you might like to impart on your intended audience.

Long before Marilyn Manson hit the scene, he envisioned himself as being a “pop star who would shock the world.” He kept drawings of costumes and stage set designs along with other business and creative details in a personal notebook. This was Manson’s “North Star” – his guiding light. Several platinum albums later, he truly succeeded at bringing his vision to fruition.

As the saying goes, “If you don’t stand for something, you can surely fall for anything.” So what’s guiding your music career? If you haven’t thought about it before, now is a good time.

Identify opportunities or needs

While keeping your vision at heart, it’s time to examine what’s going on in the world around to ensure that your vision actually fills a need and represents a true opportunity – from a creative and marketing standpoint. As previously stated, Marilyn Manson had a clear vision of being a pop star who would shock the world. But he also identified and filled a specific void in the marketplace – and perhaps even a specific societal need – for an entertaining and horrifically dramatic “new” stage personality, similar to what a now aging Alice Cooper had done decades earlier. In other words, the commercial marketplace was ripe for an artist like Marilyn Manson, and he capitalized on the opportunity unlike any other artist.

A valuable tool to help you examine the external (and internal) environments of the marketplace is called a “SWOT analysis.” SWOT is an acronym that stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. The idea is to identify external needs and opportunities that match your internal strengths while also considering your internal weaknesses and the external risks (e.g. competition) that could impede your ability to succeed. While all this might sound like business school jargon, the most successful companies, both big and small, use the SWOT model. And with a little training, so can you!

Don’t worry whether Lil Dr. Dre, or anyone else, knew this stuff

Make no mistake – successful people in all fields apply marketing and business principles to get their desired results, whether they know it or not. From jazz guitarist Pat Metheny who advanced traditional jazz music into the future with the use of synthesizers and robotics, to Nirvana who stamped out cookie-cutter hair metal and created a whole new genre of music called grunge, new trails were forged that filled a very specific market need. The advantage of being consciously aware of certain marketing principles up front is that you don’t have to find your path by chance. Rather, you can use these helpful tools at your own discretion to help you achieve your vision.

Be an innovator

Be clear that the marketing approach that I am discussing here is not asking you to compromise your artistic integrity and to “sell out,” but rather to adjust with the world around you, be more unique and innovative, and to “buy in.” Let’s face it, creating art is a beautiful thing, but creating a sound and style that is new and fresh, having it enjoyed by a large audience, and receiving compensation so that you can quite your day job is simply awesome! Remember, creating music in a vacuum and simply hoping it is successful can be a risky proposition if you intend to be more than a hobbyist.

In closing…

Always stay true your vision, but be willing to adjust that vision to fill a specific need or void in the marketplace that matches your strengths. If you can fill that need first and do it better than anyone else, the rest just might be your amazing history.

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Listen: Harvey Kubernik on Masters of Song

Harvey Kubernik was a guest on Lisa Finnie’s Masters of Song program on KCSN. Hear their discussion on Harvey’s new book, Leonard Cohen: Everybody Knows, as well as some samples from Leonard’s newest album!

00126365>>LISTEN HERE<<

No other contemporary songwriter has created a body of work of such consistent quality, and such singular emotional and intellectual brilliance, as Leonard Cohen. His smoke-black vocal style navigates the most sophisticated and arresting of melodies in songs infused with romance, innuendo, and humor.

Arriving at the ’60s pop-music party fashionably late, Cohen released his debut album – Songs of Leonard Cohen – in 1967. At 33 years of age, he was the adult in the room, a room brimming, then as now, with literary pretension and artistic self-importance. But Cohen, already established as a respected poet and novelist, was the real deal. In the decades since, he has battled with drugs, love, and bankruptcy; become a Buddhist monk while simultaneously reaffirming his Jewish faith; and recorded 11 more albums of unfailingly affecting beauty.

Beginning with Cohen the young poet and author in his home town of Montreal and ending with his 2012 release – Old Ideas – and recent acclaimed live performances, Everybody Knowshonors Leonard Cohen’s 80th birthday by celebrating his genius and tracing his rise to stardom through 200 photographs and the thoughts, memories, and reflections of those who have both worked with and been inspired by him.

The Borg DIY Marketing Method

In this interview on DIY Convention, Bobby Borg gives some insights into the marketing methods he’s written about in Music Marketing for the DIY Musician.

Read the rest of the interview here!

Tell us about Music Marketing For the DIY Musician.

Essentially, the book is a step-by-step guide to producing a fully integrated, customized, low-budget plan of attack 00124611for artists marketing their own music. The goal is to help artists take control of their own destinies, save money and time, and eventually draw the full attention of top music industry professionals. It’s ultimately about making music that matters—and music that gets heard!

How is Music Marketing For The DIY Musician different from other books in the genre?

The biggest difference is that it is written specifically for DIY musicians by a musician with DIY, indie, and major label success, making it a more credible, focused, practical, and relatable resource for artists. Also, It covers the complete marketing process—from vision through execution—with handy templates and samples in each chapter to help artists create fully-customized marketing plans. And finally, it introduces sophisticated business and research tools (SWOT, SMART, AIDA, and PFB Charts) not found in most music marketing books, enabling artists to choose more confidently and even scientifically the right strategies for their own career path.

Provide one crucial tip from the book?

Do not create music in a vacuum with the intention of just throwing it out there and hoping for success. Hope is not a strategy! Instead, have a clear sense of what you stand for, while also trying to uncover where the world is going. Look for ways where you can be unique and do something that has never been done before. As hockey legend Wayne Gretzky said, “The key to success is to skate where the puck’s going, not where it’s been.”

Visions of Music Preview

Sheet music is something to be used, yet also a piece of art to be saved and visually enjoyed. In Visions of MusicTony Walas presents a collection of covers that offer keen insight into the world as it was, reflecting the passage of time. It’s the memories and history they invoke that transcends the music they contain. Watch the trailer below for an exclusive look at this work of art!