Thursday, August 13, 2009

Les Paul, "Father of the Electric Guitar, dies at age 94

One of the great innovators of modern music, Les Paul, died in White Plains, N.Y., on Aug. 13, 2009, from complications of pneumonia.

Although Paul was an accomplished guitarist in his own right, his greatest contributions to music came as an inventor, both of the solid body guitar and multi-track recording. It is impossible to imagine music today without recognizing these innovations.

Tributes to Paul poured in from across the world from the countless musicians who were inspired by the Waukesha, Wisconsin native. A typical comment was made by guitarist Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top: "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."

The Gibson Les Paul is one of the most recognizable guitars in music history, played by musicians such as Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton, Hubert Sumlin, Howlin' Wolf, Duane Allman, Jeff Beck, Peter Frampton, Billy Gibbons, George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Jimmy Page, Keith Richards, Davey Johnstone, Carlos Santana, Hubert Sumlin, Joe Walsh and Eddie Van Halen, just to name a few.

Not only a great inventor, Paul also was a successful musician in the 1940s and '50s, earning 36 gold records, many of which featured his wife, vocalist Mary Ford.

"As the 'Father of the Electric Guitar,' he was not only one of the world's greatest innovators  but a legend who created, inspired and contributed to the success of musicians around the world," said Dave Berryman, President of Gibson Guitar. “I have had the privilege to know and work with Les for many, many years and his passing has left a deep personal void. He was simply put – remarkable in every way. As a person, a musician, a friend, an inventor. He will be sorely missed by us all."

Gibson Web site

The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer


Les Paul's Web site

Famous Guitarists Who Have Played a Les Paul

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Muddy Waters, Newport Jazz Festival 1960

This vintage film captures Muddy Waters during his legendary performance at the Newport Jazz Festival, Newport, Rhode Island, U.S., on July 3, 1960. Muddy and the band plays "Got My Mojo Working."

View the video on a separate page

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

"Queen of the Blues" Koko Taylor dies at 80

Alligator Records reported the death of Koko Taylor, 80, on June 3, 2009, in her hometown of Chicago. The Grammy Award-winning blues singer died as a result of complications following her May 19 survey to correct a gastrointestinal bleed.

Taylor’s final performance was on May 7, 2009 in Memphis at the Blues Music Awards, where she sang “Wang Dang Doodle” after receiving her award for Traditional Blues Female Artist Of The Year.

Born Cora Walton on a sharecropper’s farm just outside Memphis, TN, on September 28, 1928, Koko, nicknamed for her love of chocolate, fell in love with music at an early age. Inspired by gospel music and WDIA blues disc jockeys B.B. King and Rufus Thomas, Taylor began belting the blues with her five brothers and sisters, accompanying themselves on their homemade instruments. In 1952, Taylor and her soon-to-be-husband, the late Robert “Pops” Taylor, traveled to Chicago with nothing but, in Koko’s words, “thirty-five cents and a box of Ritz Crackers.”

In Chicago, “Pops” worked for a packing company, and Koko cleaned houses. Together they frequented the city’s blues clubs nightly. Encouraged by her husband, Koko began to sit in with the city’s top blues bands, and soon she was in demand as a guest artist. One evening in 1962 Koko was approached by arranger/composer Willie Dixon. Overwhelmed by Koko’s performance, Dixon landed Koko a Chess Records recording contract, where he produced her several singles, two albums and penned her million-selling 1965 hit “Wang Dang Doodle,” which would become Taylor’s signature song.

Survivors include Taylor’s husband Hays Harris, daughter Joyce Threatt, son-in-law Lee Threatt, grandchildren Lee, Jr. and Wendy, and three great-grandchildren.

Follow this link for more information.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Podcast features words and music of Buddy Guy

As part of Black History Month, Legacy Recordings has posted a number of podcasts from great African-American artists. (OK, Black History Month was in February, but you can still listen to the interviews anyway!)

For blues fans, the Buddy Guy podcasts are especially interesting. Hosted by journalist Anthony DeCurtis, the four-part series features recollections and insights from the blues man and includes 15 classic tracks from throughout Guy’s career.

Other podcasts are available from Ashford & Simpson, Philadelphia soul, Miles Davis, Fats Waller, Sam Cooke and Bill Withers.

Follow this link to listen to the Buddy Guy podcasts.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

What a shock! B.B. King wins 15th Grammy award

With all due respect to Elvin Bishop, Buddy Guy, John Lee Hooker Jr. and Pinetop Perkins, they never had a chance against B.B. King in the competition for best traditional blues album. The King of the Blues racked up his 15th Grammy award on Feb. 8 for "One King Favor."

The other blues Grammy went to another multiple Grammy winner, Dr. John. He took home his fifth Grammy for "City That Care Forgot," which was recorded by Dr. John and The Lower 911. Other nominees in the category for best contemporary blues album were Marcia Ball, Solomon Burke, Taj Mahal and Irma Thomas.