Loss of a “REAL” Guitar Hero…

Photo Courtesy of www.huffingtonpost.comLes Paul…musician, inventor, & designer of the solid-body electric guitar has passed away.  This loss can be heard around the world.  Over the decades, Gibson Guitars’ “Les Paul Series” has become a staple in the music industry, particularly in ‘Rock N Roll’.

Born in Waukesha, Wisconsin in June of 1915, Les started his early musical career playing harmonica.  He transitioned himself into guitar, where he experimented with different amplification techniques.  At only 13, Les tried to amplify his acoustic guitar by placing a telephone receiver under the strings.  This worked on only two of the strings, so later he would add a phonograph needle to the design.  The modification would resonate through the entire instrument & the young innovator would be quite pleased with the more robust sensation.

By the age of 17, Les Paul was playing guitar professionally & joined Rube Tronson & the “Texas Cowboys” of Chicago.  His roots were in country & jazz, & he often went by the stage name of ‘Red Hot Red’.  By 1938, he moved to New York City & formed the “Les Paul Trio” with Jim Atkins & Ernie Newton.  In the 40’s, he would head to Hollywood, where he would meet his future wife…Mary Ford.  This recording duo would go on to earn 36 gold records & give Les Paul the opportunity to become the Father of “Multi-Track Recording”.  His over-dubbing inventions would enable him to record multiple elements of a song at different times.  His techniques, as a creative genius, were unsurpassed.

The creation of “The Log”, in 1941, would be a defining moment in music history.  It was a four-by-four piece of wood with steel strings…which Les would soon add a solid body & electrical pick-up to, giving it a “unique” sound.  Although some laughed at his efforts, the electric guitar was born…& by 1952, Gibson Guitars began mass production of the “Les Paul” unit.

An injury in a near fatal automobile accident, in 1948, left the talented icon with almost NO mobility in his right arm.  Les would instruct his surgeons to set the arm at such an angle, which would allow him to still be able to cradle & pick a guitar.  Determination, & this “life-altering” event, would be the foundation he would use to develop the “refined” & “charismatic” playing style he is known for today.  Les Paul is the winner of numerous Grammies, an inductee into the ‘Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’, & an honorary member of the ‘Audio Engineering Society’.  In 2005, he was also added to the ‘National Inventors Hall of Fame’.  He died at the age of 94, due to complications from pneumonia in White Plains, New York.

There’s so much that can be said about Les Paul…a man with a smile as infectious as the instrument & techniques he designed.  Many famous musicians such as Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), Pete Townshend (The Who), Slash (formerly of Guns N’ Roses), Ace Frehley (Kiss), Steve Clark (Def Leppard), & Kirk Hammett (Metallica) have all used a “Les Paul” guitar at some point during their careers.  Many individuals have “tried” to copy some of his signature moves…like Les’s first guitar student, Steve Miller, from the “Steve Miller Band”.  Sadly, we say goodbye to a legend & a “REAL” guitar hero — whose riffs, trills, & influence…will NEVER leave the stage.



“ROCK U REVIEW” pays tribute to Mr. Paul, & thanks him for his tremendous musical contributions.  We express our deepest condolences to his family & loved ones.

(Dates & Events Gathered from Wikipedia.org)

BPatoine – August, 2009

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