Fender introduces the Stratocaster, a sleek new electric guitar with three pickups, a remarkably comfortable contoured body, an elegant sunburst finish and an ingeniously effective vibrato bridge.
On Dec. 1, many get their first glimpse of a Stratocaster when a rock 'n' roll trio called the Crickets performs on The Ed Sullivan Show. The Crickets' leader is a bespectacled young Texan named Charles Hardin "Buddy" Holly.
The Stratocaster rides the huge instrumental surf music wave, exemplified this year by debut Beach Boys album Surfin' Safari and the exotic instrumental fury of Dick Dale's "Misirlou."
The members of Deep Purple watch as fire destroys the Montreux Casino on Dec. 4 of this year. Inspired by the "fire in the sky" and the smoke drifting over the lake, the band composes 1972 proto-metal classic "Smoke on the Water," for which guitarist Ritchie Blackmore creates the most imitated Stratocaster riff ever.
U2's fifth studio album, The Joshua Tree is released in March of this year. A cinematic-sounding Stratocaster tour de force by guitarist David "Edge" Evans, it features hits including "With or Without You," "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," "In God's Country" and epically ringing concert favorite "Where the Streets Have No Name."
Kurt Cobain records a great deal of industry-changing Nirvana juggernaut Nevermind, released in September of this year, using a Stratocaster. Thus, the same guitar behind the foot-tapping sound of 1957's "Peggy Sue" is also behind the intensely aggressive sound of the biggest rock phenomena of the modern era, grunge and alt-indie.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers' Californication is released in June. It marks the return of Stratocaster-wielding guitarist John Frusciante and remains the band's most successful studio album, with hits including the title track, "Scar Tissue" and "Otherside."
On Nov. 17 of this year, a Stratocaster autographed by a host of rock stars commands the highest figure ever paid at auction for a guitar. At the "Reach Out to Asia" charity auction at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Doha, Qatar, the Arctic White Standard series Stratocaster, signed by Bryan Adams, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Ray Davies, Liam and Noel Gallagher, David Gilmour, Tony Iommi, Mick Jagger, Mark Knopfler, Brian May, Paul McCartney, Jimmy Page, Keith Richards, Sting, Pete Townshend, Ronnie Wood, and Angus and Malcolm Young, fetches $2.7 million.
John Mayer wields a Stratocaster with marvelous aplomb on third studio album Continuum, which yields a handful of hits including this sweetly grooving millennial anthem. Unlike previous Mayer studio efforts, Continuum leans heavily on blues and soul, transforming the onetime heartfelt pop-rock balladeer to genuine SRV-influenced Strat hero for a new generation.
Franco-electronic duo Daft Punk taps Chic ace Nile Rodgers as the Strat master on "Get Lucky," the grooving cosmic centerpiece of acclaimed smash Random Access Memories. Rodgers' infectious disco-funk riffing and always-impeccable phrasing make his Strat the backbone of 2013's most in-demand summer dance-pop sensation, and prove that the instrument could be right at home with a new generation of electronic artists.