Thursday, August 13, 2009

To Les Paul: "Thank You for the Music"

Guitar legend Les Paul dies at age 94
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Les Paul, the guitarist and inventor who changed the course of music with the electric guitar and multitrack recording and had a string of hits, many with wife Mary Ford, died on Thursday. He was 94.

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

He had been hospitalized in February 2006 when he learned he won two Grammys for an album he released after his 90th birthday, "Les Paul & Friends: American Made, World Played."

"I feel like a condemned building with a new flagpole on it," he joked.

As an inventor, Paul helped bring about the rise of rock 'n' roll and 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.

With Ford, his wife from 1949 to 1962, he earned 36 gold records and 11 No. 1 pop hits, including "Vaya Con Dios," "How High the Moon," "Nola" and "Lover." Many of their songs used overdubbing techniques that Paul the inventor had helped develop. [...]

Read the rest for a brief synopsis of his career. Last year, one of our tenants gave us a cassette collection of the Guitar Music of Les Paul, accompanied by his wife Mary Ford. It really brought back some memories, and demonstrated how advanced his techniques were in their time. Many musicians have indeed built on his work since then.

He was quite a cheerful and clever fellow, he'll be missed by his many fans.

Visit these links for more information about the man and his music:

Guitar, studio wizard Les Paul dies at 94

NYT's Obituary for Les Paul

Wikipedia: Les Paul

Les Paul Online

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"How High the Moon" with Mary Ford,Les' wife, is still a classic of guitar mastery, doubletracking, reverb, vocal harmony, and memorable musicianship.

Being Polish, and a fan of early rock, blues, and electric guitars, Lester Polfus inspired me as did the Polski Chess Brothers, owners of the South Side Chicago junkyard turned recording studio that founded Chess Records and preserved some of the greats of blues, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, and many others.

One thing that can be said: If you're Polski, you know the blues.

I had the great good fortune to see Les in NY at the Blue Note many years ago, and although he was in his 80's and suffering from the ailments of his age and auto wreck, put on a performance that was classic and inimitable.

One of the best recordings I have is Les doing a duet with Chet Atkins of the theme from the movie "Picnic" ..

I'll be raising a glass to Les tonight as his melodies reverberate from the cones of my ancient A/R speakers (tube amplified, of course)