Clarence Leo Fender, whose Stratocaster was the guitar of choice for rock stars ranging from Buddy Holly to Jimi Hendrix and Eddie Van Halen, died Thursday at age 82.
Fender, who had suffered from Parkinson's disease, died on his way to a hospital after being found unconscious at his home.The Stratocaster, introduced in 1954, revolutionized the industry because the electric guitar could be mass-produced, making it affordable while still offering great sound.
Today, the Stratocaster is the basic design for most electric guitars, and an original Strat can sell for up to $20,000.
"He definitely was a pioneer. It's still probably the No. 1 selling guitar in the world," said John Carruthers, a guitar-maker in Los Angeles and a former Fender consultant.
Fender sold his business to CBS in 1965 for $13 million. CBS sold it in 1985 for $12.5 million after cheaply produced overseas guitars destroyed the market for U.S.-made products. The company still turns out guitars today, but most are made overseas.