Meet the American who invented the electric guitar and inspired rock and roll

Burning sound waves, like fireworks on electric guitar strings, have defined popular music around the world for nearly 70 years.
Swiss-born entrepreneur Adolph Rickenbacker (1887-1976) was awarded for this miracle.During the Great Depression of the 1930s, he and his partner George Beauchamp invented the electric guitar in California.
This powerful new instrument inspired a uniquely American art form that has come to dominate global popular music culture.
Nicholas Toth, a professor of anthropology and cognitive sciences at Indiana University and a stringed instrument collector, told Fox News Digital that electric guitars are “affordable, loud and relatively easy to learn.”
Electric guitars produce more than just sound and power.It provides an outlet for musicians to express every emotion imaginable – while also allowing listeners to feel the artist’s joy, pain, elation or despair seep into their own soul.
The Beatles guitarist George Harrison, 25 years old and mired in irreverent fame and fortune, laments that the world’s love is still to be fulfilled, “while my guitar weeps softly”.
A young New Jersey musician struggles to find his voice in Vietnam-torn America.Then “I got this guitar and I learned how to make it talk,” Bruce Springsteen boasted about his love for Mary on “Thunder Road.”
“Only a guitar, hanging low/It’s a one-way ticket, there’s only one way to go,” raved about the punchy British-American actor Alien in ‘Jukebox Hero’ – a reflection of countless star dreams, inspirations from musical instruments.
The earliest electric guitar models were called the Rickenbacker Frying Pan, so called because it resembled a round cast iron pan with a long handle.In this case, however, it has a steel guitar string neck.
Toth and his wife, Dr. Kathy Schick, also professors at Indiana University, have one of the earliest known models of musical instruments, a circa 1934 model frying pan with the name spelled “Richenbacher.”
The inventor changed his name in the late 1930s due to rising anti-German sentiment before World War II.His cousin Eddie Rickenbacker, America’s greatest flying ace of World War I, changed his name a few years ago.
Some rock pundits have argued that the slick entrepreneur wanted to capitalize on his war hero cousin’s national popularity, noting that the inventor kept the name Rickenbacher for personal use.
The Rickenbacker frying pan quickly proved a commercial success while inspiring a wave of imitators, innovation and improvement.
Designers such as Les Paul, Leo Fender and Roger Rossmeisl have all built on the techniques pioneered by Rickenbacker Frying Pan – ultimately giving a raw, vibrant and initially distinctive style of American music.
Rock star Ted Nugent told Fox News Digital: “The guitar continues to be the primary sonic and sensory stimulation for excitable people around the world,” while describing the intense power created by wielding an electric guitar in front of a live audience.
“If there’s one experience humans can call ‘out-of-body’, it’s sharing, digging, milking, exploring and collaborating on musical guitar fires with people who love it as much as I do,” he added.
Adolf Adam Richenbacher was born on April 1, 1887 at Gemsberg St. 7, Basel, Switzerland.On the road to reinventing global popular culture, he overcame enormous personal challenges.
Swiss journalist Baenz Friedli wrote in his inventor’s biography on that his father, Adolf Sr., “run a small business that was both a cabinet maker and a model maker.”The guitar company is still named after his Americanized name to this day.
“While the economic downturn of the 1870s has lifted, the rich have fled the inner city for the suburbs, leaving cramped, crowded old towns to the poor.”
With limited prospects for becoming lower-class citizens of Europe, the family, including Adolf’s sister Emma and newborn brother Robert, traveled to the United States via the French port of Le Havre in 1891.
A week later, they arrived at Castle Gardens, a former immigration center on Ellis Island at the southern tip of Manhattan, before settling in Columbus, Ohio.
According to the company biography, Rickenbach’s life in America as a child was not easy.His mother Elizabeth died shortly after their arrival.His dad lost his legs in a train accident “and started drinking his pain and grief.”
Journalist Friedley describes a tragic childhood after Rickenbach, a crippled and alcoholic, abandoned his children.
“When Emma found her younger brothers covered in ice and snow, they were rescued from their icy deaths, and they fell asleep at the door,” Fridley wrote. “Her English is rudimentary, and she herself has just Out of her childhood, she took a job as a maid in a wealthy family at the southern end of town and was given permission to place little Adolf and Robert in her room as well. Emma raised them there for seven years.”
Rickenbacher eventually married Charlotte (“Lottie”) Kammerer, a first-generation German-American whose family became wealthy in Pennsylvania’s oil industry.He changed his name to Adolf.
Around 1918, they moved to Los Angeles, where Rickenbacker used his talents to establish a manufacturing company that supplied metal parts to various industries.
One of its customers is National String Instrument Co., whose co-founder George Beauchamp was frustrated with his efforts to electrify guitars.
Rickenbacker provides the expertise and funding needed to make the next leap.When Rickenbacker provided the tools and funds and built new guitars, Beauchamp was a tinkerer like everyone else.Together, they created an instrument with electromagnetic pickups that convert the vibrations of the strings into electrical impulses that can be amplified significantly in a way no other guitar can.
The pair applied for a patent for an “electric stringed instrument” in 1934, which was granted in 1937.
The country at the time was in the midst of an obsession with Hawaiian culture – around the same time, Hawaiian tiki cocktail culture arose from the Trader Vic or Don the Beachcomber.
American kids from all walks of life quickly realized the power and potential of the electric guitar, which provided the soundtrack to the Hawaiian beach vibe.
Most of these people are teenagers with raw energy and a keen interest in new musical tastes.They were weaned from the vibrant blues, jazz, bluegrass and other influences of American string culture – and they were inspired by the great economic success of the United States after World War II.
“Innovative artists of the 1940s and 1950s like Rosetta Tharpe, Les Paul, Muddy Waters and Chuck Berry revolutionized [the electric guitar] and eventually made it a staple of rock and roll throughout the 1960s and beyond,” Andy Leach, Rock Celebrity Church Museum and Archives Collection Senior Director told Fox News Digital.
The electric guitar proved to be the perfect tool for a multicultural and impacted egalitarian society.
“As an American, I find it attractive that you don’t need money, prestige or the right background to be a successful musician,” said Indiana University’s Toth. “The electric guitar is for most people. It’s affordable.”
Young British kids like John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Pete Townsend, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and more – among many other British musicians – Be mesmerized by the pulsating electric guitar sound across the ocean in the 1950s and 1960s.
The Beatles count American rockers Berry, Buddy Hawley and Elvis Presley as their biggest influencers.
As evidenced by the global phenomenon of Beatle mania in the 1960s, the Fab Four made American music better and more popular than ever.
“When the Beatles came to America, it was like seeing a new color for the first time,” one of the band’s followers once said.
John Lennon played his prized 1958 Rickenbacker 325 for the first time on the “Ed Sullivan Show” in early 1964 when he performed the American harmonies “She Loves You, Yes, Yes, Yes.”
He reportedly got a new 1964 Rickenbacker 325 a few days later, and played the new model when the Beatles returned to “The Ed Sullivan Show” in February of the same year.
Rickenbacker died on March 21, 1976 in Fullerton, California, after battling cancer.died at the age of 89.
He died with a wonderful gift.He lived to see his invention of the electric guitar become a powerful force in popular culture.
The popularity of the Rickenbacker guitar, and Adolph Rickenbacker’s association with rock legends, soared immediately after the Beatles arrived in the United States
“[Roger] McGuinn bought a Rickenbacker 360/12 after seeing the movie ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ and really used its bell-like sound quality as the basis for Byrds’ early style,” according to Rickenbacker’s company history.
“The Who’s Peter Townshend, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s John Fogerty, Steppenwolf’s John Kay and many other famous guitarists of the 1960s have all become loyal users of Rickenbacker,” the same source said.
“In the mid-1960s, the six-week wait period for certain models became a six-month (or longer) waiting period.”
Rickenbacker flaunts his role in shaping music history.The business cards he handed out reportedly read “Adolf Rickenbach, the father of the electric guitar.”
To read more stories in this unique “Meet Americans…” series from Fox News Digital, click here.
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Post time: Jul-13-2022