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