Ed With Mary Kaye "RIP"
About a month before she passed away.
Mary Kaye, known as the "First Lady of Rock and Roll", was a guitarist and
performer who was active in the 1950s and 1960's. Mary Kaye descended from
Hawaiian royalty in the line of Queen Liliuokalani, Hawaii's last reigning
monarch, and was born into a show business family. She is credited, along
with Louis Prima, as being a founder of the Las Vegas "lounge" phenomenon:
an all-night party atmosphere where stars and common folk rubbed elbows in a
freewheeling environment. Kaye's fans included Elvis Presley, Sammy Davis
Jr. and ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons.
Mary was photographed with her combo, the Mary Kaye Trio, in a 1956 Fender promotional advertisement featuring a new Stratocaster electric guitar. This ash blonde guitar with maple neck and gold hardware later became popularly known as "The Mary Kaye Strat" was the first custom guitar out of the Fender Custom Shop. A slab-board Swamp Ash blond 1954 Fender Stratocaster guitar, the Mary Kaye model, is one of the most expensive and highly collectable guitars in the world. Only a few were produced in 1954, but the color has been re-introduced to the Fender line after the strong international demand for the Mary Kaye color scheme. A limited series Mary Kaye Tribute Strat was issued in 2005 for the 50th Anniversary of the Stratocaster. Mary Kaye died in a Las Vegas hospital of pulmonary disease on February 17, 2007.