On this day in 1956, innovative guitar builder Leo Fender was awarded the patent for a "Tremolo Device for Stringed Instruments," commonly known as the "whammy bar." The device was misnamed — it's more accurately a vibrato bar (tremolo is a "wavering effect in a musical tone, produced by rapid reiteration of a note, by rapid repeated variation in the pitch of a note," according to the dictionary) — but that didn't stop musicians from using it in a variety of ways to create new sounds and techniques. The bar was introduced with Fender's Stratocaster, which was invented a couple of years earlier.
The Greater Cincinnati area has given the world two "twang bar kings" (or maybe "twang bar Picassos" is more appropriate) —pals and bandmates in The Bears, Adrian Belew and Rob Fetters.
Click on for Born This Day featuring Q-Tip, Brian Setzer, Chris Carrabba and Martin Denny.
Born This Day: Musical movers and shakers sharing an April 10 birthday include Reggae legend Neville "Bunny Wailer" Livingston (1947); late P-Funk guitarist Eddie Hazel (1950); R&B/Pop singer/songwriter/producer Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds (1958); Stray Cats frontman and Jump Blues solo great Brian Setzer (1959); frontwoman of Pop rockers Katrina and the Waves ("Walking on Sunshine"), Katrina Leskanich (1960); lead guitarist for Pop Metal greats Ratt, Warren DeMartini (1963); guitarist in The Late Show with David Letterman's house band, Felicia Collins (1964); legendary MC with A Tribe Called Quest, Kamaal Ibn John Fareed, better known as Q-Tip (1970); Emo's James Dean, Dashboard Confessional's Chris Carrabba (1975); fantastic modern Blues singer Shemekia Copeland (1979); Pop singer/songwriter Mandy Moore (1984); and the "father of exotica," Lounge music superhero Martin Denny (1911).
If you've ever been to an exceptionally cool Tiki party, you've likely heard the music of Denny, who passed away in 2005 at the age of 93. Since it feels like winter is finally upon us (what the …?), here are a few hot tunes from Denny's catalog to warm you up, including one of his experiments with the Moog synth.