Friday, August 14, 2009

Les Paul, June 9, 1915 – August 13, 2009

Les Paul pretty much changed the face of the music industry: inventor of the first solid-body electric guitar; inventor of the multitrack tape recorder; and creator of such recording techniques as overdubbing, tape delay, and phasing. And to top it off, the man was one helluva guitar player. He passed away yesterday at the age of 94, a full life and a life well-led.

And of course I've gathered together some videos (I do so love YouTube!). The first is an example of the work Les did with his wife and musical partner, singer Mary Ford, performing "The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise" from their TV show Les Paul & Mary Ford at Home.

Les Paul collaborated with a lot of other guitarists, but my personal favorite has to be his collaboration with Chet Atkins. When they played together they billed themselves as Chester & Lester, and that name gives a clue as to the fun they had when they played. Here they are on a TV special playing "Avalon".

But Les didn't limit his collaborations to his contemporaries; he was also known to sit in with rock musicians and match them decibel for decibel. Most of the guitar greats of the golden age of guitar rock cite Les Paul as a major influence; Jeff Beck has been quoted as saying: "I've copied more licks from Les Paul than I'd like to admit." And speaking of Jeff Beck, here he is jamming with Les on the concert stage, obviously having a blast!

Thank you Les! You've left a legacy no one will ever match, and we're in your debt.

Photo & text © 2009 by A. Roy Hilbinger


  1. Roy....I absolutely love this post. I just called Rick up to read it too and listen to the clips. We were talking about him today...a remarkable man.

  2. OK shoot me but I've never heard of Les Paul before until recently. I thought he was a gay man in drag!

  3. Roy, saw this a couple days ago over at Wolfie's. Talk about a punch in the belly! And he was still performing last year at 93! God love 'im! Gonna miss 'im! Nice rememberance...

  4. Nice tribute to Les Paul, Roy. Great guitar pic. Is this yours?

  5. Thanks everybody!

    Willow, yeah, that's a macro shot of my Epiphone Standard. It's not flashy, but then I'm not a flashy player, so we fit.

  6. I heard about the death of Les Paul on the radio and I was hoping that one of my blogging friends would write something about his life and share some of his music. Thank you for doing this.

  7. lovely tribute.... amazing mao n!! thanks for all the vids look forward to checking them all out!! I too love youtube!!! but am sometimes disappointed when they don't have a vid of a song I'm looking for, but what the heck, they have what I'm looking for more times than not....but no randy newman performing burn on