(Update: I was able to find a nice concise video on Les Paul that I felt appropriate and have inserted it below. It’s well worth the few minutes it takes to see the master at work, even into his 90s. His type may well never pass this way again.)
RIP Les Paul…
You may have seen a brief tribute on Michelle Malkin’s web site and wondered, “why does that name sound familiar?” Les Paul, the man credited with the invention of the solid-body electric guitar and mult-track recording, passed away at age 94. For anyone even remotely connected to the recording industry, Paul (born Lester William Polsfuss) is considered “the guitar dude of all guitar dudes.” But he was far more than that. He blazed trails in the recording industry that set the standard from which virtually all future innovations would spring.
The Gibson Guitar company showed a lot of interest in a guitar design Paul had come up with in the ’50s and they struck a deal to have the guitar sold under their brand, but his name associated with the model. It has become the guitar of choice for guitarists from Keith Richards to Slash (Guns ‘N Roses), from the Doobie Brothers to BB King. It didn’t matter what the musical genre was. Guitarists who played with orchestras chose the Les Paul model. It is nothing less than the ultimate guitar icon.
But Paul’s contribution to the music world went way beyond the invention of the electric guitar that made rock & roll possible. He was also the innovator who discovered how to create multi-track recordings, enabling singers to harmonize with themselves and opening up a whole world of possibilities in the field of sound technology. Virtually every recording technique and trick can be traced back to the work of Les Paul.
As a guitar player myself, I owned a Les Paul which, sadly, left my possession thanks to a thief. I didn’t cry… well, not in public, anyway. But there was a feeling in the pit of my stomach that no medicine would cure for weeks. I wasn’t just robbed. My friends couldn’t console me… ” They stole my Les Paul. Don’t you get it?” They say time heals all wounds, but I can honestly say, some 25 years later, if I ever catch the guy that stole my Les Paul… Yes, folks, that’s the bond between a guitarist and his Les Paul.
Actually, I just hope whoever stole it played it well and often, but treated it with the respect a masterpiece like that deserves. If I could know that, I’d be at peace about it.
When the history of the recording industry is written, one of the most prominent names mentioned will have to be Les Paul, inventor, innovator and “Godfather” of guitars. For more on Les Paul, visit his web site.
Bon Voyage, Les. “They’s gonna be some good rockin’ in Heaven tonight!”
H/T: Michelle Malkin