Thursday, August 13, 2009

Les Paul (1915-2009)

WWW--The man was a giant. Long after his popular singles with his wife Mary Ford in the 1940s until the early 1960s, Paul was noted for being the inventor of the solid-body electric guitar, and much more.

Without Les Paul, there would have been no Sgt. Pepper's. Without Les Paul, there would have been no Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Wes Montgomery, John McLaughlin, or even a Velvet Underground, DEVO, or a Joy Division. There would be no techno. There would be no industrial music. There would be no hip-hop. There would have never been any punk rock. There would have been no funk, no James Brown, no Parliament.

The fact is, Les Paul invented multitrack recording long before anyone else had. The ability to record and isolate guitar, bass, drums, and any number of combination of instruments as we now know them today would have either taken longer, or been an impossibility without Les Paul. As a musician, he was practically unparalleled in his abilities, he was a stunning jazz-guitarist and even dabbled in country and other forms of pop music.

My second guitar was a Les Paul Custom, and it was a beauty, a great model. I have to wonder, however, if we're ever going to know how his "Les Pulverizer" worked. Paul could mount the stage alone, playing to his own accompanyment. The guitar-controller itself had wires leading from it to a unit offstage, but Paul would never let anyone near it or to examine it, and he claimed he would take the secret of it to the grave. I'm betting he did.

Les Paul died today of complications from pneumonia, as many people his age do. He was 94. But there will never be another Les Paul again.

Les Paul using the Les Pulverizer live:

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