Clarence Leo Fender, 81, a musical instrument pioneer whose electric guitars found favor with such performers as Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix, Albert Lee and Roy Buchanan, died Thursday of natural causes in Fullerton, Calif. A self-confessed tinkerer, Mr. Fender brought out a solid-body electric guitar that was to become the much-coveted Telecaster between 1949 and 1951, then found widespread success with the introduction in 1954 of the Stratocaster, hailed as a near-perfect fusion of electronics, technology and design. Early models sold for $75, but their unique sound and image has pushed their value in some cases up to $20,000. Mr. Fender built his first guitar in the 1930s, developed a successful pedal steel guitar and later produced amplifiers to obtain the booming sound needed by rock and roll and country music players. He has been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
THE BALTIMORE SUN