Les Paul Dies at 94; updated
Les Paul, the long-lived musician who invented the solid-body electric guitar and multi-track recording, has died at 94. Check out Adam Bernstein's obituary here.
He became famous in the 1960s for the eponymous Les Paul guitar, a solid-body electric with a distinctive rounded shape that powered many of the popular pop and blues bands of the day. He may very well be the only person who is a member of both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
In his day, Les Paul was a bigger star than most of the people who played his guitars later on. He was a jazzman who could play country and rock-and-roll and every other style in a fast, pyrotechnic way that has to be heard -- and seen -- to be believed. He was born in Wisconsin and was self-trained as a musician and electronics engineer and was always experimenting with guitars and recording technology. He was a true American original.
In the early 1950s, Paul and his wife, singer-guitarist Mary Ford, were huge stars, with 16 Top 10 hits in a four-year period, most notably their rocket-ship, multi-tracked version of "How High the Moon." For seven years, they had a TV show broadcast from their home in New Jersey. Les kept making music almost to the end and even had to adapt to playing with severe arthritis in his hands. Even then, as you can see in this lovely, slowed-down version of "High How," he was still amazing.
For a taste of Les Paul's playing and his inventive mind, here's a short documentary introduction to Paul's musical wizardry:
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