The Birth of Loud
A riveting saga in the history of rock ‘n’ roll: the decades-long 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 the primordial elements of 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 from rural Orange County, Paul was a brilliant but egomaniacal 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 the time Jimi Hendrix played “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Woodstock in 1969 on his Fender Stratocaster, it was clear that electric instruments—Fender or Gibson—had launched music into a radical new age, empowering artists with a vibrancy and volume never before attainable.

The Birth of Loud Details

TitleThe Birth of Loud
Author
ReleaseJan 15th, 2019
PublisherScribner
ISBN-139781501141652
Rating
GenreMusic, History, Nonfiction, Culture, Pop Culture

The Birth of Loud Review

  • Brent Criswell
    January 1, 1970
    I am reading an advance, galley proof copy of the book and eagerly awaiting the arrival of the hardcover edition in a couple of weeks. You don't have to be a guitar player, or even a Southern California history buff to be engaged by this book. The story of the rivalry between Leo Fender and Les Paul captures you from the first pages. It is an excellent read. Full disclosure: The author is my son-in-law. That being said, Objectively, I would still highly recommend this book.
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  • David Doty
    January 1, 1970
    Much more than a biography of the two titans of the electric guitar industry, Leo Fender and Les Paul, this book is a fascinating history of American music between 1950 and 1970, that includes several interesting profiles of musicians such as Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton, the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and Jimmy Hendrix. Thoroughly researched, and very well written, the book is a testament to the American ideals of ingenuity, hard work, and perseverance.The Audible version is excellent, and the 9+ h Much more than a biography of the two titans of the electric guitar industry, Leo Fender and Les Paul, this book is a fascinating history of American music between 1950 and 1970, that includes several interesting profiles of musicians such as Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton, the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and Jimmy Hendrix. Thoroughly researched, and very well written, the book is a testament to the American ideals of ingenuity, hard work, and perseverance.The Audible version is excellent, and the 9+ hours of text flew by on a road trip as I listened to the intriguing narrative of how the mild-mannered radio repairman Leo Fender (who could not play the guitar or any other musical instrument) and the outrageously self-absorbed Les Paul (a very popular performer in his day) competed to design and produce the most iconic electric guitars in the world.The personalities, technology, culture, and music of this era, combined with the author's compelling narrative, make this a hard book to put down.
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  • Jsavett1
    January 1, 1970
    This is a delightful little read about the two giants of electric guitar design and production whose instruments changed the world. Neither “invented” the solid body electric guitar, indeed, as is well known, Les Paul basically had no input in designing the beautiful mahogany monster axe which bears his name. Rather, Leo and Les occupy this story as the kind of obsessive tinkerers of a previous age; they are the grandchildren of Edison and Bell, the forefathers of Jobs and Gates. I’m not suggest This is a delightful little read about the two giants of electric guitar design and production whose instruments changed the world. Neither “invented” the solid body electric guitar, indeed, as is well known, Les Paul basically had no input in designing the beautiful mahogany monster axe which bears his name. Rather, Leo and Les occupy this story as the kind of obsessive tinkerers of a previous age; they are the grandchildren of Edison and Bell, the forefathers of Jobs and Gates. I’m not suggesting the Stratocaster and Les Paul affected the world as the incandescent bulb and the iPhone have, but I also AM suggesting that. One need only read Port’s absolutely gorgeous description of Jimi Hendrix’s rendition of The Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock, played on his upside down, white Strat, to appreciate how electric guitars and their history, particularly these two titans, have made and reflected the changes in American culture since they were plugged in.I gave this three stars rather than more because, unlike reviews suggest, I didn’t find this “compulsively readable” or “stunning.” It was VERY GOOD. I’m glad I know what I learned in it. And I’m happy Ian Port wrote it. But I did find myself wanting to hear more from each guitar’s most famous players. There are some lines from Paige and Clapton, Hendrix and Richards. But ultimately, the culture, technology, and people that made these instruments happen take center stage.
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  • Koen
    January 1, 1970
    Excellent, easy read about the birth of the birth of the electric guitar and loud music.I always loved music but i never been a musician. I can't tell if a musician is very skilled, nor do i care really. I also never been much interested in instruments with which my favorite music was made, i guess i knew i was never going to playing those anyway. But i do recognize a Fender Telecaster or Stratocaster and a Gibson Les Paul.This book tells the history of how the electric guitar came to be. The in Excellent, easy read about the birth of the birth of the electric guitar and loud music.I always loved music but i never been a musician. I can't tell if a musician is very skilled, nor do i care really. I also never been much interested in instruments with which my favorite music was made, i guess i knew i was never going to playing those anyway. But i do recognize a Fender Telecaster or Stratocaster and a Gibson Les Paul.This book tells the history of how the electric guitar came to be. The intertwined stories of Leo Fender and Les Paul and their instruments are fascinating. The author does a great job of bringing across how massively influential these tinkerers have been to pretty much all music from the 50's and onwards. This probably isn't news to many but i didn't know much about this and this book was a perfect concise history for me. Port's writing left me wanting for more, especially where he wrote about Jimi Hendrix. Those descriptions of Hendrix upstaging Clapton and playing the Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock were exquisite.
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  • Danielle
    January 1, 1970
    I got a free galley of this book and thought it might go either way as to whether or not this would be a book that I would enjoy. I love listening to music, but I don't play and have no real affinity for or knowledge about different types of guitars. I figured I would start reading it and if I didn't get into it fairly quickly I would put it down. I did not put it down. This book was fascinating. I had no idea about the history of electric guitars or the people who invented them. There was so mu I got a free galley of this book and thought it might go either way as to whether or not this would be a book that I would enjoy. I love listening to music, but I don't play and have no real affinity for or knowledge about different types of guitars. I figured I would start reading it and if I didn't get into it fairly quickly I would put it down. I did not put it down. This book was fascinating. I had no idea about the history of electric guitars or the people who invented them. There was so much crazy stuff in both of their lives and so many interesting stories. This was a great book, and I'm glad I gave it a chance.
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  • Bob
    January 1, 1970
    The cover headline suggested a hard-nosed duel between Leo Fender and Les Paul. I guess that marketing feels that all history needs to be viewed through a competitive lens to sell books today. Happily, this is a straightforward history of the development of electric guitars and basses (and some of the iconic amplifiers), the inventors who developed them, and the players who popularized them, from about 1945 to 1970. I loved it, undiminished by having heard many of the stories before. It made a f The cover headline suggested a hard-nosed duel between Leo Fender and Les Paul. I guess that marketing feels that all history needs to be viewed through a competitive lens to sell books today. Happily, this is a straightforward history of the development of electric guitars and basses (and some of the iconic amplifiers), the inventors who developed them, and the players who popularized them, from about 1945 to 1970. I loved it, undiminished by having heard many of the stories before. It made a fine choice to align the various events in time, providing meaningful context. There was competition, for sure, but not the 'prize fight' promised on the cover.
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  • Blakecriswell
    January 1, 1970
    I just finished a free galley copy, and let me say, this book ROCKS! I've read very few non-fiction works that read like a page-turning novel. I simply could not put this book down. The real life story of Leo Fender and Les Paul is so captivating that it nearly seems fictitious. I'd highly recommend this to anyone with even a modicum of interest in the roots of rock n roll.
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  • 约翰 胡
    January 1, 1970
    An absolute page turner, filled with great stories of the men and women who invented the electric guitar and those that used them to create the brand-new sound that defined the late 20th century. A must-read for fans of music or American history.
  • Lori
    January 1, 1970
    If you enjoy history and rock music, this book will be an enjoyable read.
  • Alysa H.
    January 1, 1970
    ** I received a Review Copy of this book via NetGalley **
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