My friends and I sometimes get carried away on Facebook, but we have a lot of fun doing it. This afternoon, I saw on Shorpy.com an 1898 photo of a government scientist looking at an enormous radio vacuum tube or valve; it may have been the first radio tube. It struck me as comical, so I cropped and sepia-toned a version of the photo on Facebook, with a mock serious caption. Then I found, cropped and toned an old photo of two guys with a giant speaker and put in a second mock-serious caption. Here’s some of the banter that followed:
Me (original post): In this rare photo, Leo Fender’s older brother, Freddy, examines a newly developed power tube for the proposed Super-Duper-Quadruple Reverb amp, which never reached the production stage. During testing, Freddy and Leo inadvertently flipped the On and Standby switches at the same time, causing a power outage in the Fullerton, California, area that lasted for several days.
Me (again): In another rare photo, two unidentified employees of the Fender Musical Instrument Company move one of the four prototype speakers for the proposed Super-Duper-Quadruple Reverb amp into Leo Fender’s test lab. Made by the Jenson Speaker Company, this 142″ speaker was remarkable not only for its size but also for its weight of 276 pounds. The bass response was said to be impressive.
Nutty Friend #1: Can you hear me now? Good!
Me (again): There is a long-standing but never confirmed story that a young Fender employee, Rex O’Saurus, was standing in front of this proposed amp when the first power chord was played through it, and was spontaneously vaporized by the resulting sound blast. It’s true that Mr. O’Saurus was not seen again after the incident, but it may be that he was merely disoriented and wandered away in a dazed condition.
Nutty Friend #1: He later turned up with Marc Bolan and T-Rex, playing cowbell.
Me (again): Jimmy, I’m not certain that is the same Rex O’Saurus, but a clue might be found in his reply when a magazine writer asked him about the incident. His response (“Pardon me? Did you say something?”) could possibly point to a severe hearing impairment earlier in his life. Who can say?
Nutty Friend #1: It’s all hearsay, methinks…
Nutty Friend #2: Huh? (cups hand behind ear)
Me (again): Tyrone O’Saurus, brother of the missing Rex, has said that he hasn’t heard from him since the incident happened in 1965.
Me (again): Mrs. Terri Dactyl, sister of the long-missing man, has said that her brother Rex was an unsung hero of the music world and should be honored as such. It is rumored that the Fender Corporation may retire from service the metal dustpan used to dispose of Rex’s possible remains and, in his honor, have it nickel plated and engraved with the phrase “Ashes to Ashes and Dust to Dust; We Fired Up the Amp and Rex Went Bust.”
Nutty Friend #3: So Terri Dactyl and Rex gave birth to T-Rex, Bang a Gong, I’m gone!
Me (again): Just received an email from Oswald Leonidas, historian at Fender, who proposes a contest for the best tribute poem to poor Rex O’Saurus. I will be the judge and remember the lines have to fit on this historic dustpan. My entry: “We’ll Miss Young Rex; He’s Gone, Alas; But You Must Admit; This Amp Kicks Ass.”
It’s all in fun and no disrespect is intended to Fender Musical Instruments or anyone else!