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Electric Guitar Heroes

Oklahoma and the enhancement of an instrument



 



Bob Dunn, who toured between the World Wars with the Panhandle Cowboys and Indians, was an early adapter and virtuoso of the electric steel guitar. His Jan. 27, 1935, studio recording of the tune “Taking Off” with Milton Brown and his Musical Brownies is considered the first recording to use an electrically amplified instrument. Vintage Guitar magazine credits him as “the amplified guitar’s first stylist,” noting that, “In a way, Dunn was a sort of Jeff Beck of the steel guitar; his solos were often otherworldly, with cascades of arpeggios, jarring staccato notes and Hawaiian chime effects blasting through the mix of instruments.”
 

THE CLAIM: Robert Lee Dunn, born Feb. 8, 1908, in Braggs, Okla., invented the electric steel guitar.

THE SOURCE: The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, published by the Oklahoma Historical Society.

STATUS: False.

THE TRUTH: Dunn did not, however, invent the instrument. Credit goes to Texas-born George Delmetia Beauchamp — a vaudeville performer who experimented with ways to have his guitar heard above an orchestra — for creating the first string-driven, electro- magnetic guitar. Brad Tolinski and Alan di Perna, authors of the 2016 Random House book Play It Loud: An Epic History of the Style, Sound and Revolution of the Electric Guitar, note that the Beauchamp design became the basis of the first commercially produced electric guitar, the RO-PAT-IN A-25 “Frying Pan,” which hit the market in 1932. RO-PAT-IN (inspired by the term ElectRO-PAtent-INstruments) would evolve into Rickenbacker International, which continues manufacturing instruments today.

In an unexpected twist, the first documented public performance of an electric guitar does have an Oklahoma connection. According to Guitar Aficionado magazine, the first-ever concert to feature the instrument occurred in Kansas on Oct. 31, 1932, at Wichita’s Shadowland Pavilion. The performer, guitarist Gage Kelso Brewer, was born in 1904 in Gage, Oklahoma Territory.

Brewer’s pioneering performance featured two RO-PAT-IN prototypes – the electric Spanish prototype and the A-25 Frying Pan – that he had obtained from his friend George Beauchamp. An Oct. 2, 1932, article in the Wichita Beacon marveled at the technological wonder, which was promoted in a series of Halloween-themed concerts as a combination of “natural personal technique and electrical perfection.” Although the A-25 was destroyed in a 1935 fire, Brewer’s electric Spanish model is now at the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum, the centerpiece of its exhibition titled “The Electric Guitar – Wichita’s Instrument!” Rock on.


Editor’s note: Oklahoma is rich with history, lore and fun facts, but some of them aren’t quite factual. In this series, M.J. Alexander hunts for the accuracy – or lack thereof – behind some of our state’s stories.

 

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Calendar

April 2019

Meet all the Princesses at The Oklahoma City Fairytale Ball. This magical event is full of memorable moments you won't want to miss! Dance with Cinderella; read with Rapunzel; share sweet...

Cost: $25-$60

Where:
La Bella
6701 W Wilshire Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK  73132
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Sponsor: Pretty Princess Parties & Project Princess
Telephone: 405-777-2411
Contact Name: Brooke Potter
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The 30th Annual Spring Plant Sale at Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary will feature a huge selection of native plants, hard-to-find herbs and well-adapted plants. There are a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
1 Nature Place
McKinney, TX  75069
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Sponsor: Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary
Telephone: 972.562.5566
Contact Name: Stephanie Jennings
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Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
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Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
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Saviour is a pop-classical oratorio which takes its audience from creation through resurrection and is a picture of God pursuing His people. Its unique and powerful music will showcase the Voices...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crossings Community Church - OKC Campus
14600 North Portland Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73134
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Sponsor: Crossings Community Church
Telephone: 405-302-1258
Contact Name: Lori Bunyar
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Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


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Contact Name: Jenni
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Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
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Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

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Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
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Sit down with the Mod Quad Collective creatives for a fun afternoon of bunny making! Come and go. Tickets on our website.

Cost: $15 per person

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
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Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
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Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

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The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
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Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
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Oklahoma City Community College's Paul W. Sechrist Signature Lecture Series will feature David Grann, the New York Times bestselling author of Killers of the Flower Moon. This lecture is free...

Cost: Free

Where:
OCCC Visual and Performing Arts Center Theater
7777 S May Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73159
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Sponsor: Oklahoma City Community College
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Grab a friend and join us as we celebrate the launch of our 2019 Summer Collection.  Hosted with influencers Aubrey @thedandyliar, Jen @houseofkubes, and OKC's local rental clothier,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kendra Scott
5810 N Classen Blvd #2
Oklahoma City, OK  73118
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Sponsor: Kendra Scott
Telephone: 405.241.4203
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The National Summit on Homeland Security Law, 2019, in collaboration with the American College of Environmental Lawyers (ACOEL), is bringing to you two days of programming presented by homeland...

Cost: $0-$125

Where:
Oklahoma City University School of Law
800 N Harvey Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Sponsor: Oklahoma City University School of Law
Telephone: 405-208-6300
Contact Name: Allison Rabon
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Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
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Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
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As a local business, amshot typically focuses on IT services and software development, but our team is also passionate about supporting the local art community. With this in mind, we created...

Cost: $5

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amshot
428 Dean A McGee Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Sponsor: amshot
Telephone: 405.594.7642
Contact Name: Lexi Belvis
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  Verbode Urban Core Artists: Local art show to benefit The Homeless Alliance opens at Verbode on April 18 A new art show, Verbode Urban Core Artists, will benefit The Homeless...

Cost: Free

Where:
Verbode Urban Core Artists
415 North Broadway, Suite 101
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
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Sponsor: Verbode, Valor Bank, Hive Design Team
Telephone: 405.604.7947
Contact Name: Christie Owen
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Michael Sims established The Lawrence Lithography Workshop in 1979 in Lawrence, Kansas, as a contract printing and teaching facility for local and regional artists. He will show a collection of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
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Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
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In anticipation of the 2019 grand opening of The McKnight Center for the Performing Arts, New York Philharmonic Principal Trumpet Christopher Martin will join the Oklahoma State University Wind...

Cost: $10

Where:
Seretean Center
132 Seretean Center
Stillwater, OK  74078
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Sponsor: McKnight Center for the Performing Arts
Telephone: 405-744-9999
Contact Name: Katy Fabrie
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Just in time for tax season, Carpenter Square Theatre presents “Death Tax,” Lucas Hnath’s darkly comic tale about death and taxes and how we live with both.  ...

Cost: $5-$25

Where:
Carpenter Square Theatre
800 W. Main
Oklahoma City, OK  73106
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Sponsor: Carpenter Square Theatre
Telephone: 405-232-6500
Contact Name: Rhonda M. Clark
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Cost: Free

Where:
Elk Valley Brewery
1210 N. Hudson Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
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Sponsor: VHSANDCHILL
Telephone: 405-503-0050
Contact Name: Sean Peel
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The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

The National Summit on Homeland Security Law, 2019, in collaboration with the American College of Environmental Lawyers (ACOEL), is bringing to you two days of programming presented by homeland...

Cost: $0-$125

Where:
Oklahoma City University School of Law
800 N Harvey Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Sponsor: Oklahoma City University School of Law
Telephone: 405-208-6300
Contact Name: Allison Rabon
Website »

More information

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Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

Skirvin Jazz Club is an immersive live music experience at the historic Skirvin Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City. We transform The Park Avenue Grill a swinging jazz club. We stage the band...

Cost: Free

Where:
Park Avenue Grill @ The Skirvin Hotel
1 Park Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Sponsor: OkSessions
Telephone: 405.694.8843
Contact Name: Christian Pearson
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Just in time for tax season, Carpenter Square Theatre presents “Death Tax,” Lucas Hnath’s darkly comic tale about death and taxes and how we live with both.  ...

Cost: $5-$25

Where:
Carpenter Square Theatre
800 W. Main
Oklahoma City, OK  73106
View map »


Sponsor: Carpenter Square Theatre
Telephone: 405-232-6500
Contact Name: Rhonda M. Clark
Website »

More information

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The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

Easter egg hunts will be held at 11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m. for children ages 11 and under. Everyone is invited to meet and take pictures with the Easter Bunny! Egg hunts are free with regular Farm...

Cost: 11.50

Where:
Orr Family Farm
14400 S. Western Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73170
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Telephone: 405.799.3276
Contact Name: Lauren Daughety

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Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
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Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

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Celebrate Easter with a trip to Andy Alligator’s Fun Park! On Saturday and Sunday, get $5 off an All-Day Pass with our Eggcellent Easter Special. All-Day Passes include Go-Karts,...

Cost: $23.95

Where:
Andy Alligator's Fun Park & Water Park
3300 Market Pl
Norman, OK  73072
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America’s largest interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel. At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: $59.95

Where:
The Skirvin Hilton
1 Park Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Sponsor: The Dinner Detective
Telephone: 866.496.0535
Website »

More information

Just in time for tax season, Carpenter Square Theatre presents “Death Tax,” Lucas Hnath’s darkly comic tale about death and taxes and how we live with both.  ...

Cost: $5-$25

Where:
Carpenter Square Theatre
800 W. Main
Oklahoma City, OK  73106
View map »


Sponsor: Carpenter Square Theatre
Telephone: 405-232-6500
Contact Name: Rhonda M. Clark
Website »

More information

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