Archive for August 13th, 2009

13th August
written by Matt The Cat
Les Paul
1915 – 2009

Les Paul, a true, undisputed musical genius passed away at 94 after complications from pneumonia in White Plains, NY. Paul will forever be remembered as a technological pioneer in the realm of electric guitar development and sound recording as well as a great pop artist in his own right. Les Paul’s contribution to the foundation of rock n’ roll can hardly be fully measured. He developed the first solid-bodied electric guitar in the mid-1940s, that would become a rock standard in the mid-1950s. He pioneered multi-track recording as well, which gave artists the ability to experiment on recordings. Imagine how limited The Beatles or Pink Floyd would have been without the freedom of overdubs and multi-tracking? They and countless others owe a bit of gratitude to Mr. Paul.

During the 1950s, Les Paul with his wife and singing partner Mary Ford scored many hit records on Capitol. They had a signature sound with Mary’s double-tracked vocals and Les’ soaring, multi-tracked guitar. Les never quit innovating and through the years, he continually updated his signature “Les Paul” guitar for Gibson Guitars. Sometimes using the word “legend” to describe someone feels thin or flat, but it was and is a perfect way to refer to Les Paul. He was and is a legend and he continued to play live gigs right up to his August 13, 2009 death.

This past November, my wife Kelly surprised me with a birthday trip to Cleveland, OH, The Rock n’ Roll Hall Of Fame AND the American Music Masters concert tribute to Les Paul. Guitar gods from Billy Gibbons to James Burton showed up to pay tribute to the “Wizard Of Waukesha, WI”. Les closed down the show with presence, humor and some great guitar playing. It was a night that I’ll never forget. I never got to see Les’ weekly live gig in Manhattan, so I am very fortunate that my wife made sure I got to see and hear the great Les Paul before he died.

So please take a moment today or over the next couple of days and put on some great guitar music. Even if it’s not a Les Paul record that you put on, listen for Les’ influence, because baby, it’s in there!