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    Les Paul Passes

    © LOUIS LANZANO/APGuitar legend Les Paul dies at age 94
    Aug. 13, 2009, 11:17 AM EST
    WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) -- Les Paul, who invented the solid-body electric guitar later wielded by a legion of rock and roll greats, died Thursday of complications from pneumonia. He was 94.

    According to Gibson Guitar, Paul died at White Plains Hospital. His family and friends were by his side.

    As an inventor, Paul also helped bring about the rise of rock and roll with multitrack recording, which enables artists to record different instruments at different times, sing harmony with themselves, and then carefully balance the tracks in the finished recording.

    The use of electric guitar gained popularity in the mid-to-late 1940s, and then exploded with the advent of rock in the mid-'50s.

    "Suddenly, it was recognized that power was a very important part of music," Paul once said. "To have the dynamics, to have the way of expressing yourself beyond the normal limits of an unamplified instrument, was incredible. Today a guy wouldn't think of singing a song on a stage without a microphone and a sound system."


    Search: Les Paul
    View results for: Les Paul Les Paul guitar line Legacy Recordings Les Paul inventions A tinkerer and musician since childhood, he experimented with guitar amplification for years before coming up in 1941 with what he called "The Log," a four-by-four piece of wood strung with steel strings.

    "I went into a nightclub and played it. Of course, everybody had me labeled as a nut." He later put the wooden wings onto the body to give it a tradition guitar shape.

    In 1952, Gibson Guitars began production on the Les Paul guitar.

    Pete Townsend of The Who, Steve Howe of Yes, jazz great Al Di Meola and Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page all made the Gibson Les Paul their trademark six-string.

    Over the years, the Les Paul series has become one of the most widely used guitars in the music industry. In 2005, Christie's auction house sold a 1955 Gibson Les Paul for $45,600.

    In the late 1960s, Paul retired from music to concentrate on his inventions. His interest in country music was rekindled in the mid-'70s and he teamed up with Chet Atkins for two albums. The duo were awarded a Grammy for best country instrumental performance of 1976 for their "Chester and Lester" album.

    With Mary Ford, his wife from 1949 to 1962, he earned 36 gold records for hits including "Vaya Con Dios" and "How High the Moon," which both hit No. 1. Many of their songs used overdubbing techniques that Paul had helped develop.

    "I could take my Mary and make her three, six, nine, 12, as many voices as I wished," he recalled. "This is quite an asset." The overdubbing technique was highly influential on later recording artists such as the Carpenters.

    Released in 2005, "Les Paul & Friends: American Made, World Played" was his first album of new material since those 1970s recordings. Among those playing with him: Peter Frampton, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton and Richie Sambora.

    "They're not only my friends, but they're great players," Paul told The Associated Press. "I never stop being amazed by all the different ways of playing the guitar and making it deliver a message."

    Two cuts from the album won Grammys: "Caravan," for best pop instrumental performance and "69 Freedom Special," for best rock instrumental performance. (He had also been awarded a technical Grammy in 2001.)

    Paul was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2005.

    Paul was born Lester William Polfus, in Waukseha, Wis., on June 9, 1915. He began his career as a musician, billing himself as Red Hot Red or Rhubarb Red. He toured with the popular Chicago band Rube Tronson and His Texas Cowboys and led the house band on WJJD radio in Chicago.

    In the mid-1930s he joined Fred Waring's Pennsylvanians and soon moved to New York to form the Les Paul Trio, with Jim Atkins and bassist Ernie Newton.

    Meanwhile, he had made his first attempt at audio amplification at age 13. Unhappy with the amount of volume produced by his acoustic guitar, Paul tried placing a telephone receiver under the strings. Although this worked to some extent, only two strings were amplified and the volume level was still too low.

    By placing a phonograph needle in the guitar, all six strings were amplified, which proved to be much louder. Paul was playing a working prototype of the electric guitar in 1929.

    His work on taping techniques began in the years after World War II, when Bing Crosby gave him a tape recorder. Drawing on his earlier experimentation with his homemade record-cutting machines, Paul added an additional playback head to the recorder. The result was a delayed effect that became known as tape echo.

    Tape echo gave the recording a more "live" feel and enabled the user to simulate different playing environments.

    Paul's next "crazy idea" was to stack together eight mono tape machines and send their outputs to one piece of tape, stacking the recording heads on top of each other. The resulting machine served as the forerunner to today's multitrack recorders.

    In 1954, Paul commissioned Ampex to build the first eight-track tape recorder, later known as "Sel-Sync," in which a recording head could simultaneously record a new track and play back previous ones.

    He had met Ford, then known as Colleen Summers, in the 1940s while working as a studio musician in Los Angeles. For seven years in the 1950s, Paul and Ford broadcast a TV show from their home in Mahwah, N.J. Ford died in 1977, 15 years after they divorced.

    In recent years, even after his illness in early 2006, Paul played Monday nights at New York night spots. Such stars as Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page, Dire Straits ' Mark Knopfler, Bruce Springsteen and Eddie Van Halen came to pay tribute and sit in with him.

    "It's where we were the happiest, in a `joint,'" he said in a 2000 interview with the AP. "It was not being on top. The fun was getting there, not staying there — that's hard work."

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    Re: Les Paul Passes

    Huge loss,

    I live fairly close to The Les Paul House of Sound exhibit and have been meaning to check it out, Les Pauls are still cool 57 years later!

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    Re: Les Paul Passes

    That's a hell of a long life Les Paul lived and his name will forever be synonymous with Rock 'N Roll. Rest in Peace.

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    Rest in Peace.

    "Crank up the drums, crank out the bass. Crank up my Les Paul, in your face...."

    He will be sorely missed.

    Hawk

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    Re: Les Paul Passes

    What would music be without him? He gave Music life and soul. Thank you Les Paul. R.I.P.

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    Re: Les Paul Passes

    Very sad. I will break out my Epiphony* Les Paul this evening.


    * Not a typographical error.

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    Re: Les Paul Passes

    here's what some people said about Les Paul .. you might know some of them

    Slash said, "Les Paul was a shining example of how full one's life can be, he was so vibrant and full of positive energy. I'm honored and humbled to have known and played with him over the years, he was an exceptionally brilliant man."

    Joe Satriani said, "Les Paul set a standard for musicianship and innovation that remains unsurpassed. He was the original guitar hero, and the kindest of souls. Last October I joined him onstage at The Iridium club in NYC, and he was still shredding. He was and still is an inspiration to us all."

    Keb' Mo' said, “He's a guy who played right up to the end, that's what we all want to do! With his brilliant playing and invention of multi track recording, Les Paul changed the face of music history."

    Bootsy Collins said, "Yes, it is very painful when you lose a man, his music, and his everyday presence here on this planet called earth. For us musicians that knew the bar that this man Mr. Les Paul set, not only for guitar players but for music in general, especially rock music, the world will never be the same. His famous Gibson Les Paul brand Guitar's are still to this day the number one hottest rock guitar on the market. I got the opportunity in 1991 to do a session with Mr. Paul when I was with Dee-Lite, we did a song called: "A little More of Les". yes, one of my corky titles of course, but It was such an inspiration to be in the presence of such greatness, he will be sadly missed by many. We love you Les!"

    Joan Jett said, "I, and everyone at Blackheart Records, mourn the passing of our dear friend, Les Paul. He was a genius inventor, musical innovator, and a wonderful person. Without the advances he pioneered, the recording sciences and the electric guitar would have been left years behind. I will miss him so much."

    Ace Frehley said, "The music industry has lost a giant! I'm very saddened by the news of Les Paul's passing. I was lucky enough to have known Les as a friend, and admired him as a musician and innovator. He forever changed the way we listen to music."

    Butch Walker said, "Les Paul... I will always owe you.. bigtime..."

    Billy Gibbons said, "Les Paul brought six strings to electricity and electricity to six strings. Les Paul was an innovator, a groundbreaker, a risk taker, a mentor and a friend. Try to imagine what we'd be doing if he hadn't come along and changed the world. There will always be more Les to come. That's certified."

    Keith Urban said, “I have a mix of emotions today. On one hand, I am deeply saddened at Les Paul’s passing, and on the other a feeling of incredible gratitude and awe for his unquantifiable contribution to the world of music. His name adorns so many of the creations that I communicate through every night out here on the road...He is also very present every time I set foot in the studio and am able to lay multiple tracks as I record, when I use echo, etc., the list of his inventions, in addition to his famous signature model Gibson, are extraordinary. I also feel that even in his nineties, the fact he was still playing every Monday night in New York is perhaps the most beautiful and inspiring achievement of all. As Vince Gill would say, “Go rest high on that mountain Les...cause son, your work on earth is done.”

    Joe Perry said, "As a guitarist and a fan of music in general, I know the amazing contributions Les Paul made in his lifetime to the art of making music. I think if the general public knew how much of that influence is heard every day in the music that they listen to, they would be amazed. He was a true genius. The few times that I had met him, he made me feel like I had known him forever. He was always sharp, ready to rock and he was always talking about his next gig. Knowing that he is not walking the earth anymore is sad and I have lost a friend. But every time I pick up a guitar I’ll know that his spirit is alive and well right next to me. "

    Derek Trucks said, "Les Paul played until the day he died. I admire that... That's the way you live a life."

    On his many achievements Derek Trucks said, "You could take any one of the many things he did and it would have been enough for most people. Inventing multi-tracking and then the 1st great solid body electric guitar. The amount of things he pulled off is pretty astounding."

    Mick Jones said, “As a child I was introduced to the sound of Les Paul through my parent's record collection. It was a spellbinding moment when I first heard ‘How High The Moon’ featuring Mary Ford. His innovation and recording techniques contributed greatly to the creation of Rock music.”

    Rickey Medlocke said, "I'm so thankful that this guy was such an incredible genius for developing such a great guitar. I am a 3rd generation Gibson user and I always will be. God bless Les Paul."

    Tad Kubler said, "There are very few human beings in history that touched so many people the way Les Paul did. He shared his gifts with everyone and brought people together with his brilliance and devotion to music and the art of sound. It was a privilege to have met him. He will be incredibly missed. But our blessing is to know his spirit and soul will live for eternity in music everywhere."

    Wes Scantlon said, "Les and I have the same birthday – it is an honor to have been born on the same day as such a genius guitarist, innovator and human being"

    Neil Portnow (President/CEO of The Recording Academy®) said, "Three-time GRAMMY® winner Les Paul was a musical mastermind whose innovations in electric guitar and recorded music are unparalleled. A 1983 Trustees Award recipient and a 2001 Technical GRAMMY Award recipient, his career and contributions to popular music will forever be celebrated, and will continue to influence future generations of musicians. His magnetic charm and sunny disposition matched his incredible skill set, and he will always be remembered with great fondness, humility, and respect. The music industry has lost a true innovator and legend."

    Terry Stewart (President of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum) said, "Without Les Paul, we would not have rock and roll as we know it," said Terry Stewart, president and CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. “His inventions created the infrastructure for the music and his playing style will ripple through generations. He was truly an architect of rock and roll."

    Elliott Easton said, "I am deeply saddened by the passing of Les Paul. It is simply impossible to overstate the impact he has had on the modern world and our culture. There are those that refer to Les as "the Thomas Edison of Music Technology". To me that is inadequate. Thomas Edison never invented a device that could make the world fall in love with you. There isn't a person working in the music industry today that doesn't benefit in some way from Les' pioneering work."

    Brian Wilson said, "Les Paul and Mary Ford were among my most favorite musicians in the 50's. He was the first guy to do multi guitar multi track recording and that turned me on to guitars and stacking vocals for our records."

    Johnny A. said, "I am personally very saddened by the passing of Mr. Les Paul. As well as being such an iconic figure in the world of music, as a player and inventor, Les was truly a gentleman with an unbeatable sense of humor. It has been my honor to have known and played with him. His spirit will surely be missed."

    Dave Navarro, "Les is single handedly responsible for the direction and evolution of the modern rock movement. Period. If you are a fan of modern music, you owe Les Paul an enormous THANK YOU!"

    Don Miggs said, "I used to promise myself that every trip back home to NY should be capped off with seeing Les perform. I knew he wasn't going to be around forever and seeing him was a "must-do." Sadly, I never made good on my promise but one night I was walking into a deli and who do I see? Yup. My palms went sweaty, my tongue felt thick and I got a pit in my stomach, but I stopped him with a grunt of some sort. He looked me square in eye like "don't miss this moment," and I gulped and said, "It's because of you I can put food on my family's table, thank you," and he said, "You've done that for yourself, son, but thank you." And he was gone. Ah, Les, thank you thank you."

    Randy Bachman said, "I am deeply touched by the passing of Les Paul who I first met in 1959. As a guitarist, composer, electronic innovator and inventor he was beyong genius and there was none other like him. He was a true musical gift from God to the world and spent his life honoring that gift. I proudly play my Les Paul guitars every night on stage and never forget the moments we shared."

    Gary Rossington said, "I am very saddened to hear about the passing of Les Paul, he was an amazing guitarist. I play a Les Paul guitar every night and it's the best sounding guitar ever made. I have a framed t-shirt on my wall, signed by Les Paul that I admire when I'm at home, Les was the best!"

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