"Rex burned brightly for a little while," says Bill Hoting, "and influenced a lot of people," California luthier Larel Rexford Bogue was associated with one of the most distinctive guitars of recent decades, John McLaughlin's Double Rainbow 6/12 doubleneck. Rex died last February 8.
Hoting was Bogue's best friend. "We went to school in San Gabriel and played in bands," Bill says. "We played with the Mothers of Invention. Zappa was a big influence on Rex," While enrolled at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, Bill explains,"Rex started messing with lasers. We did laser shows before anyone really got into it. He was way ahead of the mainstream electronically, but he wanted to build guitars. He put in op-amps with battery power supplies before anyone else. He approached John McLaughlin in about 1972 and said,"You're the greatest player I've ever heard. Let me make you a guitar."
McLaughlin proposed a doubleneck. At the time Rex was apprenticing in Ren Ferguson's Venice Beach shop. "I built that guitar," explains Ferguson. "Rex did the electronics. He would dream up fantasy stuff he made with parts from aerospace suppliers. He opened a shop, selling gadgets and pickups that would do everything but fly across the room. He had many ideas, but the business side was lost on him. He'd get excited about manufacturing something, get investors, then get bored and move on."
Santa Monica repairman/builder Larry Brown shared a shop with Ferguson and also worked on the Double Rainbow. "That thing weighed about 35 pounds and took two years to complete," he remembers. "I fretted the necks. When Rex got paid for it, he bought a lot rum; he was a connoisseur." In a 1975 GP story, McLaughlin himself called Bogue's workmanship "impeccable, flawless." Rex also did electronic work for Alphonso Johnson and Jorge Strunz, sold preamps under the Balz Deluxe and Balz Galore names, and built instruments for Frank Zappa and Miroslav Vitous. In recent years he was something of a recluse. "He had many health problems related to his diabetes," says Hoting. "They finally got the better of him. He's at peace now, in a better place.