U.K. film producer Bob Hewitt and his cameras are at it again with the new DVD release of Leo Fender’s Telecaster: The Original Twang, which documents the 60-year history of Fender’s first successful electric guitar model.
Hewitt, a former Guitarist magazine contributor, and director Michael Bayley Hughes continue the collaboration that created acclaimed 2007 documentary Strat Masters, assembling a stellar cast of Telecaster players and experts and filming on both sides of the Atlantic. The film presents an all-encompassing look at the guitar that has endured relatively unchanged for six decades, from inauspicious late-1940s beginnings amid the orange groves of Fullerton, Calif., to worldwide reverence as an indispensible stage and studio mainstay.
The film’s interview subjects are certainly qualified to comment. Hewitt and Hughes trained their cameras on a galaxy of Telecaster stars, including Keith Richards, James Burton, Albert Lee, Jeff Beck, Steve Cropper, Redd Volkaert, G.E. Smith, Jerry Donahue, Wilko Johnson, Buddy Whittington, Richie Kotzen, Greg Koch, John 5 and others. The film includes the last interview given by Knack leader Doug Fieger, who lost his battle with cancer in February 2010, shortly after his interview segment was filmed.
Original Twang also aims the spotlight at female Telecaster aces.
“This is the first guitar film to feature women players,” Hughes said. “We’re thrilled to have Sue Foley, Deborah Coleman, Viv Albertine and Chantel McGregor among our pantheon of rock giants.”
Other Telecaster experts appearing in Original Twang include Seymour Duncan, guitar author/historians Tom Wheeler and Richard Smith, and Norm Harris of Norm’s Rare Guitars in Los Angeles. From the Fender corporation itself, interviews include senior marketing vice president Richard McDonald and Abigail Ybarra, who has worked for Fender since 1956 and is world famous for winding pickups.
“The making of this important documentary has been a real labor of love over the past two years” Hewitt said. “It was great to talk with the likes of Telecaster legends Steve Cropper, Keith Richards and Jeff Beck—but really exciting to hear from the ‘new guys’ like John 5 and Chantel McGregor. We listened to the people who bought Strat Masters, and we have included more live performance in this film. Anyone who loves the Fender brand like we do will certainly enjoy this film.”
Hewitt and Hughes were given access to film in Fender’s Corona, Calif., factory and Custom Shop. They’ve also uncovered rarely seen footage of the factory in the 1950s that was shot by Fender’s first plant manager, Forrest White.
For a glimpse of Leo Fender’s Telecaster: The Original Twang, watch this clip: