Celebrating the 75th Birthday of the Electric Guitar

- Press Release

In celebration of the 75th anniversary of the electric guitar, the Museum of Making Music is proud to announce the August 26 opening of a retrospective of the electric guitar, focusing on the pivotal contributions of Rickenbacker International Corporation (RIC) to the development of electric stringed instruments. This comprehensive exhibition will be accompanied by a benefit concert emceed Billy Hinsche (founding member of Dino, Desi & Billy) and will showcase Jefferson Starship in an intimate acoustic performance with original Jefferson Airplane guitarist and singer, Paul Kantner.

The four-month exhibition, “Brother Musician-Listen to a Miracle!: The 75th Birthday of the Electric Guitar presented by Rickenbacker” is a collaboration between the Museum of Making Music, Matthew Hill, expert in organology (the study of musical instruments) from the University of Edinburgh, and Rickenbacker International Corporation, the company who created the first viable and commercially successful electric guitar.

The invention of the electric guitar is, unquestionably, one of the most important developments in musical instruments during the last century. The impact of the electric guitar and its variants on modern music and society is immense and far-reaching. However, back in 1931, Vaudeville guitarist George Beauchamp wasn’t trying to change the world, he was simply looking for a way to get his Hawaiian guitar heard above the much louder drums, brass and wind instruments found in the dance bands of the day. His solution was the electro-magnetic pickup, the heart of the modern electric guitar. Together with Southern California-based engineer and manufacturer Adolph Rickenbacker, they created the electric guitar, famously known, due to its shape, as the “Frying Pan”. While many others were experimenting back then with the electrification of stringed instruments, Beauchamp’s design was both the most technologically and commercially successful.

Besides inventing the electric guitar, Rickenbacker (the company) has been the force behind many other innovations in guitar design including the guitar vibrato (known to guitarists as a “whammy bar”), the neck-through-body guitar design (which gives the instrument much greater sustain), and of course, the “jingle jangle” of the Rickenbacker twelve string guitar- famously used by guitarists such as the Beatles’ George Harrison and the Byrds’ Roger McGuinn.

The exhibition “Brother Musician- Listen to a Miracle!: The 75th Birthday of the Electric Guitar presented by Rickenbacker” will chart the development of the electric guitar by exploring the innovations, both well known and not so well known, pioneered by the Rickenbacker Company. The exhibition will focus on the story of Rickenbacker electric instruments, which have included, in addition to their well-known guitars and basses, electric violins, double basses, mandolins and even an electric orchestral pedal harp.

Featured in the exhibition are instruments from the personal collection of John Hall, C.E.O. of Rickenbacker International Corporation, and include many prototypes and custom instruments, as well as rare and vintage examples from Rickenbacker’s 75 year history. This is a unique chance to see a comprehensive display of electrified instruments rarely seen outside of the pages of vintage guitar-enthusiast magazines placed in historical context with historic documents and memorabilia, some never publicly displayed before, from the Rickenbacker archives.

The August 26 exhibition opening event begins at 6:30 PM with a reception in the Museum galleries where guests can enjoy the exhibit along with hors d’oeuvres and no-host bar. Following the reception, guests will get a rare chance to see an intimate acoustic performance by Paul Kantner, original member of Jefferson Airplane. Emceed by Billy Hinsche, founding member of Dino, Desi and Billy, and former member of the Beach Boys, the concert will feature Kantner who has been performing for over 40 years since co-founding Jefferson Airplane in 1965 and went on to become one of the key influences of the San Francisco sound.

Don’t miss this special evening celebrating one of music’s most influential and revolutionary innovations that changed the sound and experience of music forever. Tickets to the opening and benefit concert are $50; advanced purchase is required. All proceeds benefit the Museum of Making Music’s exhibits and educational programs. For more information or for tickets please contact Jillian Jepsen at (760) 438-5996 ext. 212.

Another event benefiting the Museum will be held on Sunday, August 27 at the House of Blues in Hollywood. Sponsored by Rickenbacker, this concert features a full electric performance of Jefferson Starship with additional performances by The Smithereens, Haute Werk, Billy Hinsche and others TBA. Tickets to this event are available through Ticketmaster or the House of Blues box office.

Website: http://www.museumofmakingmusic.org/

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