The Stratocaster. A sleek and shapely musical instrument familiar for more than 60 years to musicians and non-musicians alike. Its arrival in 1954 coincided nicely with the extraordinary musical and cultural phenomenon called rock ‘n’ roll, and the two have been hand in hand ever since, providing the proving ground for the Stratocaster’s seemingly limitless possibilities!
Join us as we take a look at some of those defining Stratocaster moments in history. Here are the Top 5 Iconic Stratocaster Moments!
5. The Crickets on The Ed Sullivan Show – Dec. 1, 1957
Fender introduced its Stratocaster guitar in spring 1954 and quickly set about refining and improving its design. But the instrument got off to a slow start, three years after its introduction, many still hadn’t seen a Stratocaster. That all changed when a Texas, rock ‘n’ roll group called the Crickets appeared on the U.S. television variety program The Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday on Dec 1, 1957. They played through two songs, “That’ll Be the Day” and “Peggy Sue”, written by the group’s Stratocaster leader, the 21-year-old singer/guitarist Charles Hardin “Buddy” Holly.
2. Hank Marvin Gets England’s First Stratocaster – March 1959
England’s post-World War II ban on U.S. goods meant getting a Fender instrument was next to impossible for British guitarists in the mid to late 1950s. This was especially disappointing for teenage UK guitarist Brian Rankin, who went by the stage name Hank Marvin and had just joined singer Cliff Richard’s band. Owning a cheap Japanese electric, Marvin dreamed of having a Stratocaster like the one Buddy Holly was holding on the cover of the 1957 album The “Chirping” Crickets. Richard knew Marvin needed a better guitar, and offered to get him the one he wanted, trade ban or not.
3. Hendrix at Monterey – June 18, 1967
One of the most memorable performances in rock history took place on Sunday June 18, 1967. That’s when the Jimi Hendrix Experience played its first major U.S. performance, at the Monterey International Pop Music Festival in Monterey.
It was a startling performance, and before the last song, a cover of “Wild Thing”, Hendrix told the audience, “I’m gonna sacrifice something right here that I really love, OK?” At the end of the song, he destroyed his ’65 Stratocaster, kneeling before it, dousing it with lighter fluid, kissing it goodbye, setting it on fire and smashing it to pieces, all while cameras were rolling and the stunned audience looked on.
4. Kurt Cobain Destroys his ‘Vandalism’ Stratocaster Onstage – Oct. 31, 1991
Smashing Stratocasters is certainly nothing new in rock history, Jimi Hendrix and Pete Townshend were reducing them to splinters in 1967, the year Kurt Cobain was born. Cobain was no stranger to smashing guitars, either. He’d been doing so since Oct 30, 1988, well before Nirvana was famous.
While performing at the1991 Paramount concert, after the 20-song performance, during “Endless, Nameless,” the guitar falls prey to a cacophonous frenzy of onstage destruction by Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic that leaves it lying onstage in pieces.
5. David Gilmour Reappears Atop The Wall – May 12, 2011
The classic Pink Floyd lineup dissolved in notorious acrimony between bassist Roger Waters and the other members but Gilmour reconvened the band without Waters in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Imagine the audience’s delighted surprise, then, during Waters’ May 12, 2011, performance of The Wall at London’s O2 Arena, when—for the first time in 31 years—Gilmour once again appeared atop the Wall with Black Strat in hand to play “Comfortably Numb”.