Thursday, August 13, 2009

Les Paul, 1915-2009. R.I.P.

Guitar legend Les Paul died today after a bout with pneumonia. He was 94.

Just the other day I was on the phone with a friend of mine discussing plans to go to New York next month for my birthday. One of the things I was planning to put on my itinerary was going to see Les Paul play. Despite his advanced age, for the past several years, Paul had a standing gig at the Iridium Jazz Clubin Midtown Manhattan.

Well, it just wasn't meant to be.

Les Paul was the leader of the Les Paul Trio but he is perhaps best known for the work he did with Mary Ford to whom he was married from 1949 to 1964. In the 1950s, Paul and Ford had a string of hits but were best known for the song "Vaya Con Dios." Paul was also responsible for innovations in the studio like eight-track recording and overdubbing.

It is impossible how many guitar players cut their teeth, or more accurately developed callouses on their fingers, playing a Gibson Les Paul. Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Peter Frampton and Robbie Krieger of The Doors have all emplyed various models of the Gibson Les Paul. For that matter, Paul McCartney used a Les Paul Standard during his concert last week at Fenway Park and has played with various Gibson Les Paul models for virtually his entire career.

Anyone who has ever played with a Gibson should play an extra note for Les Paul tonight.

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