The Most Famous Fender Stratocaster Guitars and Guitarist From 1970s
The Infamous and Ubiquitous Fender Stratocaster
The Stratocaster By Fender
Oh you've all seen it more times than you can remember. The body shape of these guitars is distinctive, and was surely eye candy from the start. The Fender Stratocaster is just tremendously cool looking, and that is all there is to it.
Probably some mad scientist was hired to design the shape and feel of the thing to make it the most appealing electric guitar ever conceived of. First built in 1954 and continuously built in more variations than probably any guitar in history to this very day, and surely beyond - this guitar is surely the prized possession for many a person the world over.
Though the Fender Stratocaster or Strat is a beautiful curvy instrument which was destined for massive success on looks alone, it surely wouldn't have become the most well known electric guitar in the world (along with the Gibson Les Paul) without some serious help. As for myself, I'm forever musically lost in the classic rock of the 1970s, and in those years there were many a fine six string electric gunslinger who walked on stage with a Fender Stratocaster, and made music that is still better than a lot of what we get fed today.
Now Hendrix just barely made it into the decade of the 1970s, and we all know how pretty often the Jimi Hendrix Experience was fatal for his right handed Fender Stratocasters that he'd play upside down due to him being left handed.
Always a showman that was a fringe element to the core, had he lived then he'd not have been remembered so well, I don't think. It's said that Jeff Beck, one of the greatest living guitarist on the planet, didn't play guitar at all for six straight months after hearing Hendrix for the first time. Jeff was already quite a flashy six string killer himself, but the gritty and absolutely authentic blues represented in the late 60's by Hendrix was too real for Jeff, and he'd surely realized that ONLY Jimi Hendrix could represent the blues so authentically, and bring it to the masses.
Hendrix succeeded! He also brought the poetry and poetic style lyrics of Bob Dylan into his Jimi Hendrix Experience, played one of the most legendary shows of the 60's at Woodstock, and died soon after returning to a more traditional route to the blues with The Band Of Gypsies.
From wah wah pedals, complex phrasing, lots of legato, studio stereophonic phasing, and a true blues heritage and delivery that nobody but nobody could deliver to a mostly white audience of hippies, Jimi Hendrix had it all, and delivered it to his fans from the stage, then ended his shows and the lives of his Fender Stratocaster guitars as he ended his life - burning out, instead of fading away.
What about Jimi's guitars? Well, one of the most famous of them to have survived was the white Stratocaster Hendrix played at Woodstock. While the details of the sale are not confirmed, Microsoft's Paul Allen is said to have paid more than $2 million dollars for it.
Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock
Eric Clapton and "Blackie"
Eric Clapton started his career with the Yardbirds, then John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers and then on to Cream while playing Gibson Les Paul and SG guitars, but during the 1970s following in the footsteps of people like Jimi Hendrix, he started playing the Fender Stratocaster almost exclusively. Personally, I've seen Eric Clapton perform twice, and maybe I've seen "Blackie," his famous Fender Stratocaster. Blackie is officially retired from the music business, that guitar has been used pretty much up, and we've all got to enjoy it at some point or another if we've got the gift of hearing.
Both of the Eric Clapton concerts that I attended were at Reunion Arena in downtown Dallas, Texas. Reunion arena was imploded just like the world trade center tower number seven on 911. It's gone, but the two shows aren't forgotten, and neither will they be so long as I am living and sentient. The first show I saw was on Eric's Journeyman album tour, and the second was on his Unplugged tour
Obviously the first tour and show that I saw featured a lot more heavy blues rock, and a ton more Fender Stratocaster. I saw him playing his Martin signature series 000 28EC the second go round, but Eric Clapton doesn't do shows any more unless he's doing an exclusively acoustic show, or a show in which he does both acoustic and electric, and once Eric Clapton went Fender Stratocaster - he's never went back!
Eric Clapton has stayed with us, and I think that he'll be with us all for a long while still. He's thought through battles with heroin, booze, cocaine, and the tragic death of a child, and yet he's still here, still valid, still making new and unique music, and still playing the fire out of his Fender Stratocaster Guitars.
What about Blackie? Blackie is long since retired. Eric very literally played Blackie the Stratocaster until she was all played out. There wasn't much left there which could be played. Sometimes things get completely worn out. Blackie, however, still exists, and was purchased by Guitar Center for nearly one million dollars.
Jeff Beck - An Absolute "god" of Guitar, and The Fender Stratocaster
Jeff Beck got his first big job in music because Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin fame didn't want it, as he'd had other things to do, so Jeff Beck became a big name in The Yardbirds. Jeff Beck, however, is one of the single greatest guitarist of the past one hundred years. Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, those persons can't hold a candle to Jeff Beck's shining star and expect anyone to see it - not when it comes to skill level and musical composition and inventiveness.
Jeff Beck has always had those things in spades, and enough to give away and still have more than he could ever use. Jeff Beck is seriously just one of the biggest studs in electric guitar history.
I'm seriously hoping that the reader here realizes that my personal opinion is that the music and guitar playing of one Jeff Beck - is vastly superior to that of either Jimi Hendrix or the great Eric Clapton!!!
If Jeff Beck is so great as I say that he is, then why is it more people don't know about him? That's simple! Jeff doesn't sing like Jimi or Eric, but he did discover and bring Rod Stewart to the world. I'm not actually sure that was a good thing, but in any case, most of Jeff Beck's music is instrumental jazz fusion, funk, and other forms of hybrid rock and blues - Jeff is one of the most versatile guitarist ever to walk the Earth.
Jeff is a musician's musician. He's not so much interested in being famous as he is in making music for music's sake, but for the record, here's some somewhat famous people that he's also recorded with: Mick Jagger, Kate Bush, Roger Waters,Donovan, Stevie Wonder, Les Paul, Zucchero, Cyndi Lauper, Brian May and ZZ Top
The Creative Genius Of Jeff Beck's Jazz Fusion - With A Fender Stratocaster
Ritchie Blackmore - One Of The Original Heavy Metal Guitarists
Ritchie Blackmore blazed through the seventies as the guitarist for Deep Purple where he helped to create heavy metal music. He did all of it then with a Fender Stratocaster guitar, and then he went on to form Rainbow with the late Ronnie James Dio, and you can't get any more heavy metal than that! The next two paragraphs of text are not mine, and I italicized them because of that, the following two are copy and pasted directly from Wikipedia concerning Blackmore's use of the Fender Stratocaster.
From 1970 to 1997, Blackmore almost exclusively played a Fender Stratocaster. He is also one of the first rock guitarists to have used a "scalloped" fretboard where the wood is filed and carved out into a shallow "U" shape between the frets. He often plays the riff without a pick, using two fingers to pluck the strings in fourths, but he's also using his thumb to pluck the bass notes of riff.
In the 1970s, Blackmore used a number of different Stratocasters; his main guitar (until the Long Live Rock 'n' Roll album) was a sunburst with a rosewood fingerboard that was scalloped. Blackmore added a strap lock to the headstock of this guitar as a conversation piece to annoy and confuse people.
These days Ritchie Blackmore is busy playing English Folk music with his Blackmore's Night and his pretty blond Lady singer, and we're happy to see him still making great music, and we'll all look for a possible Deep Purple and Fender Stratocaster reunion!
Blackmore's main Strat during the 1970s was a 1974 model of Olympic white with a rosewood fretboard which he'd had scalloped. He had a strap-lock added to the head-stock for the sole purpose of confusing or annoying people. Ritchie is an interesting guy.
Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow With Ronnie James Dio, "Man On The Silver Mountain"
Frank Zappa was not just a musician, he was also really a composer, and a philosopher that worked with music as if it were a canvas and he a painter portraying life through his medium of choice, and included in all of that was so much more than mere music. He captured comedy, beauty, angst and anger. Frank Zappa was one of the finest minds the USA ever produced, and in time I do believe that more and more people will feel the way that I do about Frank.
Entirely self taught Frank Zappa the composer was so prolific that few could ever hope to own or become familiar with even the half of what all he'd composed, produced, and recorded. The man's mind was so full of ideas and melodies he's truly without comparison. To see Frank Zappa debate is to see greatness, a REAL John Galt, a man that did exactly what he wanted to do, and did so without thought of income, but he did make quite a lot of money - simply because his amazing mind and his enthusiasm were going to wind up with that regardless.
Frank Zappa was indomitable, incomparable, incomprehensible until he spoke, and then he'd state his case about things in a way that few, if any alive, would be able to debate against.
The following paragraph from Wikipedia:
His later albums shared this eclectic and experimental approach, irrespective of whether the fundamental format was one of rock, jazz or classical. His lyrics—often humorously—reflected his iconoclastic view of established social and political processes, structures and movements. He was a strident critic of mainstream education and organized religion, and a forthright and passionate advocate for freedom of speech, self-education, political participation and the abolition of censorship.
Frank's number one Stratocaster was given to him by Howard Parker, a man who had worked for Jimi Hendrix. The guitar is known as the Astoria Strat, and now belongs to Frank's son, Dweezil Zappa. The guitar, in fact, was one of the guitars Hendrix had burned, but it didn't burn so badly that Frank couldn't use the body, and construct a guitar he would then go on to use for many years. The guitar still exists today, and is playable.
Frank Zappa was possible one of the most underrated guitarists of all time
Rory Gallagher and the 1961 Stratocaster
Growing up in Texas, I learned about Rory Gallagher later on in life. He simply wasn't someone played on the radio here, and though there simply must be an explanation for this, I've never heard one.
Gallagher sold over thirty million albums worldwide, and that is a considerable amount of success. A singer and multi-instrumentalist, Rory would still wind up being known primarily as an electric guitarist, and one associated almost entirely with one exact Fender Stratocaster.
Gallagher played a worn sunburst 1961 Stratocaster (Serial Number 64351), and once he acquired the instrument, he played it almost exclusively. He'd always dreamed of owning a guitar like the one Buddy Holly had played, and so he did.
Rory famously sweated all the finish off of the Strat. It was said Gallagher's rare blood type caused his sweat to be more acidic, and Rory himself even believed the guitar sounded better for not having paint and finish on top of the wood.
Rory would modify his guitar extensively. Though Gallagher's album sales were substantial, what truly brought him respect and love were his marathon live performances, where he'd play until he was entirely exhausted. It never mattered to Rory how dangerous parts of Ireland had become, he would tour those places yearly, and for this his home nation fans loved him dearly.
Rory Gallagher was a very pure sort of person with no pretense about him. He could have become a massive pop star, if only he'd have wanted to. He had no intentions of becoming a wretched political panderer like Bruce Springsteen, he had only wanted to perform music in an intimate way for his fans, and that's what he did with his life.
Raised in Ireland, and spending much time there, Rory was immersed in a culture of heavy alcohol consumption, and despite a liver transplant, he died too young, but he lived the life he had wanted to live, and today is revered among the persons who truly love the blues, rock, and the combination of the two played on a Fender Stratocaster.
Rory Gallagher - Bad Penny (Live At Montreux)
David Gilmour and The Black Strat
David Gilmour is one of the wealthiest musicians and guitarists in the entire world. Probably he has tens of millions of casual fans who don't realize he was hired to replace the original guitarist of Pink Floyd, a man who went completely mad.
Mr. Gilmour is a guitar anti-hero. In the age of guitar gunslingers, David would have nothing to do with any of it. He makes a point of getting the very most milage one can possibly get out of each and every note he plays. He never attempts to play fast. He has no interest at all in impressing you with his technique.
What David Gilmour is all about is crushing your soul, or perhaps making you cry with as few notes as humanely possible. And he can do it too. David's soul searing soloing is the stuff of legend, and the most of it has come from exactly one guitar - his black Stratocaster.
The Black Strat is a famous enough guitar to have its own Wikipedia page. That's right, buddy, the guitar is more famous than just about everyone who's going to read this page, and it is most certainly more famous than me.
David had lost a guitar similar to his Black Strat, and so he went to Manny's Music in New York City to buy one as similar as he could. His parents had bought him the Strat he lost, and I bet that really stung him. The Black Strat has been modified more times than likely even David recalls, and famously has alternated between having a maple fingerboard, and a rosewood fingerboard.
Pickups, tuning machine heads, knobs and switches-virtually everything has been changed out on The Black Strat at some point or another, but after a while, Gilmour got the guitar to a place where he was mostly satisfied with what it was. Fender has, of course, produced rather expensive reproductions of The Black Strat, and Gilmour even has said some of the reproductions were better than his own guitar.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2012 Wesman Todd Shaw