The Birth of Loud

Leo Fender, Les Paul, and the Guitar-Pioneering Rivalry That Shaped Rock 'n' Roll

[Amazon Link]

First a "Geez, I'm really living in the future" note: I got a little Amazon Echo Dot a while back (thanks to an insanely great Amazon offer). And while I'm reading this book rhapsodize about the revolutionary song "Lover" by Les Paul, I gave this a try:

"Alexa, play 'Lover' by Les Paul."

And darned if she didn't do it. This little trick didn't always work, but it worked often enough to enhance the reading experience.

Anyway: this is a history of the electric guitar, specifically it's development through the efforts of (mostly) two people: Leo Fender and Les Paul. The two were initially friends, turned into estranged (but apparently not bitter) rivals. It's also a mini-history of popular music, with a lot of good (sometimes lurid) stories.

I had not previously realized at what a huge deal Les Paul and Mary Ford were. Before (even) my time.

The book seems tailor-made for a Reason review (and, yup, here it is), because it's very much the story of innovation, competition, creating a market where none existed, changing the course of cultural history.