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"A hot-rod joy ride through mid-20th-century American history" (The New York Times Book Review), this one-of-a-kind narrative masterfully recreates the rivalry between the two men who innovated the electric guitar's amplified sound -- Leo Fender and Les Paul -- and their intense competition to convince rock stars like the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and Eric Clapton to play the instruments they built.

In the years after World War II, music was evolving from big-band jazz into rock 'n' roll -- and these louder styles demanded revolutionary instruments. When Leo Fender's tiny firm marketed the first solid-body electric guitar, the Esquire, musicians immediately saw its appeal. Not to be out-maneuvered, Gibson, the largest guitar manufacturer, raced to build a competitive product. The company designed an "axe" that would make Fender's Esquire look cheap and convinced Les Paul -- whose endorsement Leo Fender had sought -- to put his name on it. Thus was born the guitar world's most heated rivalry: Gibson versus Fender, Les versus Leo.

While Fender was a quiet, half-blind, self-taught radio repairman, Paul was a brilliant but headstrong pop star and guitarist who spent years toying with new musical technologies. Their contest turned into an arms race as the most inventive musicians of the 1950s and 1960s -- including bluesman Muddy Waters, rocker Buddy Holly, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Eric Clapton -- adopted one maker's guitar or another. By 1969 it was clear that these new electric instruments had launched music into a radical new age, empowering artists with a vibrancy and volume never before attainable.

In "an excellent dual portrait" (The Wall Street Journal), Ian S. Port tells the full story in The Birth of Loud, offering "spot-on human characterizations, and erotic paeans to the bodies of guitars" (The Atlantic). "The story of these instruments is the story of America in the postwar era: loud, cocky, brash, aggressively new" (The Washington Post).

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Price Summary

  • We started tracking this book on December 11, 2018.
  • This book was $14.99 when we started tracking it.
  • The price of this book has changed 2 times in the past 361 days.
  • The current price of this book is $13.99 last checked one day ago.
  • This lowest price this book has been offered at in the past six months is $11.99.
  • The lowest price to date was $11.99 last reached on November 16, 2019.
  • This book has been $11.99 one time since we started tracking it.
  • The highest price to date was $14.99 last reached on December 11, 2018.
  • This book has been $14.99 one time since we started tracking it.

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Additional Info

  • Publication Date: January 15, 2019
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • Lending: Disabled
  • Print Length: 352 Pages
  • File Size: 50,731 KB

We last verified the price of this book about one day ago. At that time, the price was $13.99. This price is subject to change. The price displayed on the Amazon.com website at the time of purchase is the price you will pay for this book. Please confirm the price before making any purchases.