Mary Kaye descended from Hawaiian royalty and was a direct descendent of Queen Liliuokalani, Hawaii 's last reigning monarch. With her band, The Mary Kaye Trio, Mary was hot property back in 1956. The Rock-N-Roll explosion had just happened and the band won many admirers, among them Elvis Presley and Sammy Davis Jr. During the '50's and '60's, Mary and her band became a regular act on the Las Vegas strip.
As a female guitarist, Mary Kaye was unique and so was the guitar she played.
"In the early '50s, Fender put out a Stratocaster, which was white ash wood with gold fittings. It didn't have a name on it -- just Fender," said Mary Kaye. "We did some movies for Howard Koch at Paramount. I told Fender that we were doing the movies, they sent over the Stratocaster and I played it in the movie Cha Cha Cha Boom. There was a lot of publicity. There was a particular picture with the three of us. I had the Stratocaster and Frankie (Mary's late partner, Frankie Ross) had a Fender amplifier in front of him. The picture went around the world. Instead of customers asking for a white guitar with gold fittings, they said -- 'I want the guitar that Mary Kaye was playing.' All of a sudden the guitar became known as the Mary Kaye Stratocaster."
The new Fender Custom Shop Mary Kaye Tribute Stratocaster guitar features a select ash body with a thin, White Blonde nitrocellulose Closet Classic finish, a hard-rock maple neck and gold hardware. As an added feature, Fender installed a set of pickups that have been hand-wound by Abigail Ybarra on each of these Limited Edition instruments. Abigail started working at Fender in 1956, and more likely than not, wound the pickups found in most late-'50s Fender Stratocaster guitars.