Here's a trivia question for you: Who created the first modern solid-body electric guitar? Answer: Paul Bigsby. In May of 1948, the engineer extraordinaire delivered his creation to legendary performer Merle Travis, who was frustrated that he couldn't get the sustain of a lap-steel guitar from a traditional acoustic. Travis provided a sketch of what he was after, Bigsby made it a reality, and was soon providing similar one-of-a-kind customs for the best pickers of the era.
So why are you reading about this here? Because Bigsby was also a big name in the world of motorcycles. In the Roaring Twenties he was a renowned racer and helped found the legendary 45 Club of Los Angeles. In '34 he began organizing races, and even wrote articles for Motorcyclist's precursor, The Motorcyclist, under the alias Professor Popper. And if that isn't enough of a connection, for a time Bigsby was also Chief Engineer at Crocker Motorcycles, responsible for designing the company's first OHV system. After WWII Bigsby let his imagination loose in the music industry, but motorcycles were never far from his mind.
A heavy volume, The Story of Paul Bigsby by Andy Babiuk is an in-depth biography of this colorful man. It's stuffed with color photos, generous gatefolds and even a CD featuring the gregarious subject discussing his many creations and a life well-lived.
The Story Of Paul Bigsby
Contact: Hal Leonard Corporation
Verdict 4 stars out of 5
More about guitars than bikes, but a worthwhile read for anyone interested in interesting people.