The electric guitar as we know it is a symbol of freedom, rebellion, and louder-than-life rock and roll, played and treasured by our best rock musicians of the past century. You probably hear their music-the influence of the electric guitar and its storied history-every day. But have you ever wondered how we got here?
Veteran music writers Brad Tolinski (former editor in chief of Guitar World) and Alan di Perna have teamed up to give us an incredible and unprecedented musical history in "Play It Loud: An Epic History Of The Style, Sound, And Revolution Of The Electric Guitar" (Doubleday; publication date: October 25, 2016), with a foreword by Carlos Santana.
In roughly the span of one human lifetime, the electric guitar made an epic transition from novelty item to the most important musical instrument of the twentieth century and beyond. Featuring interviews with Les Paul, Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen, Patti Smith, Keith Richards, Pete Townshend and B.B. King, plus dozens of behind-the-scenes creators and players, Tolinski and di Perna use twelve landmark guitars — beginning with the Rickenbacker, up until the Airline guitar — to bring this untold history to life. We delve into the life of Leo Fender, a man who couldn't play a note but who transformed the guitar into the explosive sound machine it is today, and how the famous Les Paul guitar came to be: a reaction from Gibson to rival Fender's Telecaster. In my favorite chapter, we meet Paul Reed Smith (of PRS Guitars), a teenager who singlehandedly, and with a unique business model, convinces Ted Nugent, Peter Frampton, and his idol Santana to commission one of his handmade guitars.
The authors take us from the Roaring Twenties — when the electric guitar was born out of the need to "make this thing louder" — through the ever-changing rock movements of blues, swing, surf, folk, heavy metal, retro-garage and post-punk over the next ten decades. We meet a young Eric Clapton, Chuck Berry and Bob Dylan; we see the very purposeful guitar choices of THE BEATLES and THE ROLLING STONES. We learn how the electric guitar's earliest pioneers, among them Charlie Christian and Benny Goodman, evolved into today's modern rockers, like Jack White and Annie Clark (a.k.a. St. Vincent), who both, while continuing to innovate, actually bring many forms of the earliest electric guitar back onto the stage.
"Play It Loud" is a fascinating-and very fun-history of the electric guitar that will forever change the way we think about and listen to music.