Fender Stratocaster’s 70th Anniversary | From MOBO Triumphs to Hendrix Homage

The Fender Stratocaster, known as the pinnacle of electric guitars, has left an undeniable mark on the music industry since its debut in 1954. Its sleek design and innovative features revolutionised traditional guitar aesthetics, offering unparalleled versatility to musicians of all genres. From Jimi Hendrix’s electrifying performances to Eric Clapton’s soulful melodies, the Stratocaster has been a cornerstone of musical expression for over half a century. Evolving with time, this legendary instrument continues to cement its position as a cultural icon and a major symbol of musical creativity.

To celebrate, Fender extended an invitation to the MOBO Awards, coinciding with the ceremony’s 25th anniversary—a momentous occasion to honour the profound impact of the Stratocaster in a diverse range of musical genres, including Hip Hop, Grime, RnB/Soul, Reggae, and many more. Among the nominees were acclaimed Fender artists Little Simz, Mahalia, ALT BLK ERA, Arlo Parks and Skindred and Stormzy’s session musicians, with notable victories including Stormzy achieving the Video Of The Year award for ‘Mel Made Me Do It’, and Welsh metal-reggae fusion band Skindred securing the title of Best Alternative Act.

In a testament to Fender’s ongoing legacy, Fender representative Little Simz emerged as a joint winner for the best album prize, a recognition underscored by the panel’s acknowledgment of the artists’ contributions to British rap, both in terms of production and lyrical prowess. Additionally, Little Simz accepted the Best R&B/Soul Act on behalf of the anonymous act *Sault— with Sault collective member Chronnix serving as testament to the diverse talent collaborating with Fender. In addition, Nova Twins, esteemed artists who are currently supporting Foo Fighters on tour and slated to release new music this year, made their mark at the 2024 MOBO Awards. Notably, the duo garnered attention in 2020 for their open letter to the Awards advocating for the introduction of a Rock/Alternative category. This year, they also took to the stage to present awards.

Reflecting on the significance of the Stratocaster in their creative journey, emerging multidisciplinary artist and Fender representative Deyaz shared their connection with the instrument, stating, “The Fender Stratocaster has been part of my music making process since the beginning […] I love how full it can sound for songs of mine like Everything You Want and The Fall, and how simple and stripped back it can be for my songs like Dylan and Hope. For younger people just starting out, I’d recommend just picking it up. Take that first step. Because the range of possibilities with the Stratocaster are endless and you get more experiences, you’ll unlock features you didn’t know were possible with the model.

Marking the “Year of the Stratocaster®” in its 70th anniversary, Fender proudly unveils a celebration highlighting the rich legacy of this favoured instrument known as being “Forever Ahead of Its Time.” This campaign promises an immersive experience for players and fans alike, exhibiting hero films and compelling stories that showcase the wide breadth of influence the Strat has had on artists and players across genres, regions, and generations. The campaign emphasises Fender’s commitment to staying “Forever Ahead of Its Time” in the dynamic world of music, engaging and activating relationships with the modern player.

One of the highlights of the celebration is the “Voodoo Child: Forever Ahead of Its Time” Hero Film, featuring a roster of extraordinary artists delivering their own unique rendition of Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child”. The set design also pays homage to Jimi’s infamous Live In Maui performance, further amplifying the tribute to the iconic history of the Stratocaster guitar. Janie Hendrix, Jimi’s step-sister, reflected on the enduring legacy of his music, stating, “Jimi loved to hear artists play his music […] Decades later, his music lives on being played by contemporary artists and conceivably will be for generations to come.  That really speaks to the impact and relevance of a musician  — an incredible musician, who was so far ahead of his time, that his songs will always be the current sound. Timeless. I believe his guitars, like his Stratocaster, helped give him transport”.

Fender guitars are also hosting a series of exciting events and initiatives. The ‘Strat® Sessions’ spotlight musicians’ unique connections with the iconic Strat®, while ‘Icons of the Strat’ pays homage to legendary players. From April 22nd to June 22nd, ‘Show Us Your Strat’ invites the community to share stories for a chance to win exclusive guitars, marking the milestone of the iconic Stratocaster®. Additionally, limited-edition Stratocaster models, including those from the Fender Custom Shop, are available while supplies last.

In commemorating seven decades of the Stratocaster, Fender reaffirms its commitment to innovation, creativity, and the timeless allure of music—a legacy that echoes through every chord struck on a Fender Stratocaster.

Follow Fender on Instagram
Follow MOBO Awards on Instagram

Words: Ashley Morris
Photography: Emmanuel Hammond and Jonathan Williams