Book Review: Rock & Roll Books

Play It Loud: The Epic History of the Style, Sound, and Revolution of the Electric Guitar

Rock & Roll Books

Play It Loud outs the single most important figure in rock & roll history: the electric guitar. Covering its development early last century to its current status as the lifeblood of rock, the book revisits stories told countless times – Les Paul's tinkering, Leo Fender's eponymous line, Bob Dylan going electric at Newport, Jimi Hendrix's prowess, and Eddie Van Halen building his "Frankenstrat" – but adds details and dispels myths along the way. Lesser-known stories include jazz giant Charlie Christian's championing of the instrument just when it needed the boost, Merle Travis' key work in designing the first Fender solid body and, most importantly, obscure luthier George Beauchamp's creation of the first electric guitar. The narrative ends by name-checking contemporary guitar heroes Tosin Abasi of Animals as Leaders, Gemma Thompson from Savages, and Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent, as key futurists in the evolutionary chain.


Play It Loud: The Epic History of the Style, Sound, and Revolution of the Electric Guitar

by Brad Tolinski and Alan Di Perna
Doubleday, 400 pp., $26.95
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