This was sent to me from a friend I have named Dave:
Les Paul, whose innovations with the electric guitar and studio technology
made him one of the most important figures in recorded music, has died,
according to a statement from his publicists. Paul was 94.
Paul died in White Plains, New York, from complications of severe pneumonia,
according to the statement.
Paul was a guitar and electronics mastermind whose creations — such as
multitrack recording, tape delay and the solid-body guitar that bears his
name, the Gibson Les Paul — helped give rise to modern popular music,
including rock 'n' roll. No slouch on the guitar himself, he continued
playing at clubs into his 90s despite being hampered by arthritis.
"If you only have two fingers [to work with], you have to think, how will
you play that chord?" he told CNN.com in a 2002 phone interview. "So you
think of how to replace that chord with several notes, and it gives the
illusion of sounding like a chord."
Guitarists mourned the loss Thursday.
"Les Paul set a standard for musicianship and innovation that remains
unsurpassed. He was the original guitar hero, and the kindest of souls,"
said Joe Satriani in a statement. "Last October I joined him onstage at the
Iridium club in [New York], and he was still shredding. He was and still is
an inspiration to us all."
"Les Paul was a shining example of how full one's life can be, he was so
vibrant and full of positive energy," said Slash in a statement.
Lester William Polfuss was born in Waukesha, Wisconsin, on June 9, 1915.
Even as a child he showed an aptitude for tinkering, taking apart electric
appliances to see what made them tick.
"I had to build it, make it and perfect it,"
<http://topics.cnn.com/topics/Les_Paul> Paul said in 2002. He was nicknamed
the "Wizard of Waukesha."
In the 1930s and '40s, he played with the bandleader Fred Waring and several
big band singers, including Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and the Andrews
Sisters, as well as with his own Les Paul Trio. In the early 1950s, he had a
handful of huge hits with his then-wife, Mary Ford, such as "How High the
Moon" and "Vaya Con Dios."
His guitar style, heavily influenced by jazzman Django Reinhardt, featured
lightning-quick runs and double-time rhythms. In 1948, after being involved
in a severe car accident, he asked the doctor to set his arm permanently in
a guitar-playing position.
Paul also credited Crosby for teaching him about timing, phrasing and
Crosby "didn't say it, he did it — one time only. Unless he blew the
lyrics, he did one take."
Paul never stopped tinkering with electronics, and after Crosby gave him an
early audiotape recorder, Paul went to work changing it. It eventually led
to multitrack recording; on Paul and Ford's hits, he plays many of the
guitar parts, and Ford harmonizes with herself. Multitrack recording is now
the industry standard.
But Paul likely will be best remembered for the Gibson Les Paul, a variation
on the solid-body guitar he built in the early 1940s — "The Log" — and
offered to the guitar company.
"For 10 years, I was a laugh," he told CNN in an interview. "[But] kept
pounding at them and pounding at them saying hey, here's where it's at.
Here's where tomorrow, this is it. You can drown out anybody with it. And
you can make all these different sounds that you can't do with a regular
Gibson, spurred by rival Fender, finally took Paul up on his offer and
introduced the model in 1952. It has since become the go-to guitar for such
performers as Jimmy Page.
"The world has lost a truly innovative and exceptional human being today. I
cannot imagine life without Les Paul," said Henry Juszkiewicz, Chairman and
CEO of Gibson Guitar, in a statement. "He would walk into a room and put a
smile on anyone's face. His musical charm was extraordinary and his
techniques unmatched anywhere in the world."
Paul is enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Grammy Hall of
Fame, the Inventors Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He is
survived by three sons, a daughter, five grandchildren and five
great-grandchildren. Until recently he had a standing gig at New York's
Iridium Jazz Club, where he would play with a who's-who of famed musicians.
He admired the places guitarists and engineers took his inventions, but he
said there was nothing to replace good, old-fashioned elbow grease and soul.
"I learned a long time ago that one note can go a long way if it's the right
one," he said in 2002, "and it will probably whip the guy with 20 notes."