Friday, August 14, 2009

RIP Les Paul

At the age of 94, Les Paul passed away yesterday. Lester William Polfuss has often been referred to the "father of modern music". He was not only an extraordinary jazz guitarist but a pioneer in the development of the solid-body guitar, not to mention an innovator in the studio, developing such techniques as overdubbing, delays and phasing and multi-track recording.

Paul and his wife Mary Ford, toured and performed for 13 years together until 1962, earning 36 gold records and 11 #1 pop hits. They divorced in 1964, she tired of the hectic pace of touring. In 1952, Gibson began production of the Les Paul Gibson guitar. Here's a Les Paul Custom from 1980.

Guitarists who made the Les Paul their axe of choice include The Who's Pete Townsend, Steve Howe of Yes, jazz great Al Dimeola and Led Zep's Jimmy Page. Eric Clapton was responsible for the guitar's resurgence when he played one in the early sixties.

Paul and Ford were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1978 and when Jeff Beck inducted him into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 he said, "I've copied more licks from Les Paul than I'd like to admit".
A fairly decent overview of Les Paul's career and a discography can be found here.

Les Paul and then wife Mary Ford demonstrate multi-track recording in this vintage version of How High The Moon


  1. That's a nice tribute to Les. I love the song, which shows how talented he was, and more than 50 years ago. I also like the lead-in photo a lot, although I think it's weird he's playing a Gibson acoustic f-hole archtop and not one of his signature guitars.

  2. Mike: You know your guitars, my man.