Friday, 14 August 2009

Les Paul (1915-2009)

I've just learnt that inventor and legendary guitarist Lester William Polsfuss (a.k.a. Les Paul) is dead. He will be remembered as a towering figure whose influence and legacy touched all of music. Paul died yesterday in White Plains, New York at a ripe old age of 95 from complications due to pneumonia.

It seemed that until June this year, he still played in public every Monday night. His musical influence cut across all music genres from rock to country and from jazz to pop. As an inventor, he built the first solid-body electric guitar in 1940 or 1941, and created such recording techniques as multi-track recording and tape delay.

Together with his wife, Colleen Summers, they made a name for themselves as the recording artistes Les Paul and Mary Ford. They later divorced in 1964.

An anecdote I read about a year ago: in 1948, a serious automobile accident almost destroyed his right elbow and the arm would never bend again. Paul had his doctors set the arm at an angle so he could still play the guitar.

Another anecdote: after listening to a chap playing the guitar in a pub, Paul walked up to compliment him on his playing. The guitarist asked whether he also played the guitar and Paul reportedly told him, "See, that's my name on your guitar."

1 comment:

stephen said...

Another icon gone.This is not shaping up to be a good year.When i listen to Les Paul and his electric guitar, i get transported to a world when electric guitars had that unique sound.Very nostalgic- i think Fender Stratocasters, The Shadows, tea dances in the afternoons and boy bands like the Quests.I miss those days of the curry puff look!!