Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Guitar, Studio Wizard Les Paul Dies At 94

CmdrTaco posted about 5 years ago | from the he-will-be-missed dept.

Music 227

beeshman noted that Les Paul has died. Paul was quite the hardware hacker of his day, innovating with guitar hardware, and later multi track recording. The Gibson Les Paul is one of the single most iconic instruments associated with Rock 'n Roll, and was of course played by Pete Townshend. Someday I'm going to get me one.

cancel ×

227 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Played by? (4, Funny)

Stargoat (658863) | about 5 years ago | (#29054603)

Played by Pete Townshend? More like destroyed by.

Re:Played by? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29054621)

My anus is bleeding and it really hurts. I think I got anally raped last night at a biker bar. What do I do?

Re:Played by? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29055287)

You need to get a buttplug to stretch out your asshole so next time the cocks will fit easier.

Re:Played by? (4, Informative)

lumpenprole (114780) | about 5 years ago | (#29054791)

Actually, he used to put his good les pauls on a stand behind the amp, pull out a cheap copy and smash the crap out of it. He wasn't totally stupid.

Re:Played by? (3, Interesting)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 5 years ago | (#29055291)

"Actually, he used to put his good les pauls on a stand behind the amp, pull out a cheap copy and smash the crap out of it. He wasn't totally stupid."

Not always [thewho.net] .

This has always been one of my favorite pics of Pete.."This Guitar Has Seconds To Live"

Re:Played by? (5, Funny)

Shikaku (1129753) | about 5 years ago | (#29055327)

Godo Frock? Is that his Lord of the Rings name or something? Why is it one of the tags?

Re:Played by? (1)

RabidMoose (746680) | about 5 years ago | (#29055449)

I don't know weather to mod you funny, or reply with "woooooosh".

(It's "God Of Rock")

Re:Played by? (1)

FranTaylor (164577) | about 5 years ago | (#29055591)

And then his roadies would glue it back together so he could use it again.

Re:Played by? (5, Informative)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 5 years ago | (#29055213)

Geez, the obvious person to mention, who's name is synonymous with the Les Paul is Jimmy Page.

Pete has played with the LP for a bit, but, has never been quite as associated with any one guitar like Jimmy Page.

Page == Les Paul (and a telecaster in early days)

Jimi Hendrix == Strat

To me...I always picture Pete mostly with a Gibson SG during the 60's.

Re:Played by? (3, Interesting)

Golias (176380) | about 5 years ago | (#29055227)

Townsend also played/smashed a lot of Fender Stratocasters.

If there's any rock artist closely associated with the Les Paul, it's Jimmy Page. He played the occasional Telecaster on some album tracks, but almost never played live with anything other than an LP.

Which is kind of a silly thing to bring up when talking about the inventions of Les Paul anyway. His total contribution to that design consists of a tailpiece (which they ended up not using), and his signature. Everything else about the guitar was designed by other people.

Re:Played by? (1)

bhsurfer (539137) | about 5 years ago | (#29055529)

Jimmy Page had (probably still has) that old Danelectro guitar that he kept in a different (open) tuning for stuff like Kashmir, In My Time Of Dying, White Summer/Black Mountain Side, etc. I always get a kick out of the thought of him rocking out in front of tens of thousands of people on a 30 year old $50 guitar. Jerry Garcia's first electric guitar was a Danelectro too.

Page is still the first person I think of as well when I think of a Les Paul guitar.

Re:Played by? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29055611)

He did have input in the design...

From Wikipedia -- Gibson Guitar Corporation designed a guitar incorporating Paul's suggestions in the early fifties, and presented it to him to try. He was impressed enough to sign a contract for what became the "Les Paul" model (originally only in a "gold top" version)...

Then they changed the design and created the SG. He didn't like it and wanted his name removed. So there was input and care on his part that it be a certain design.

Anon because of mod points.

From the Wikipedia article... (-1, Troll)

ground.zero.612 (1563557) | about 5 years ago | (#29054627)

The Gibson Les Paul is a Large Cock Black Mans Dong originally developed in the early 1950s.

Dang.

May I be the first to say... (5, Funny)

scribblej (195445) | about 5 years ago | (#29054629)

Don't fret.

Re:May I be the first to say... (4, Funny)

flaming error (1041742) | about 5 years ago | (#29054687)

Who is Pete Townshend

Re:May I be the first to say... (1)

MarkvW (1037596) | about 5 years ago | (#29054753)

What a perverted statement.

Re:May I be the first to say... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29054757)

A british fudge that was popular among fags in the US in the 60s. He was well-known for his ability to deepthroat big, black dicks

Re:May I be the first to say... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29054921)

fudge packer*

Re:May I be the first to say... (0, Offtopic)

Captain Spam (66120) | about 5 years ago | (#29054945)

Come now, it wasn't just him on stage.

Re:May I be the first to say... (0, Offtopic)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | about 5 years ago | (#29055035)

Well, Who was there with him.

Re:May I be the first to say... (4, Funny)

Captain Spam (66120) | about 5 years ago | (#29055099)

I just told you. The rest of the band.

Re:May I be the first to say... (4, Funny)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 5 years ago | (#29055191)

No, Pete Townshend never played with The Band.

Re:May I be the first to say... (2, Funny)

Captain Spam (66120) | about 5 years ago | (#29055417)

Of course he did! Then who was on stage with him?

Re:May I be the first to say... (2, Funny)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 5 years ago | (#29055711)

Exactly!

Re:May I be the first to say... (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 5 years ago | (#29055249)

"I just told you. The rest of the band."

YES

Re:May I be the first to say... (1)

Golias (176380) | about 5 years ago | (#29055403)

No, he never played with Yes.

Re:May I be the first to say... (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 5 years ago | (#29055451)

"No, he never played with Yes."

Guess Who?

Re:May I be the first to say... (1)

ajlitt (19055) | about 5 years ago | (#29055899)

No, that's not Who.

Re:May I be the first to say... (1)

The Ultimate Fartkno (756456) | about 5 years ago | (#29055469)

Who played with Yes?

Re:May I be the first to say... (1)

sherpajohn (113531) | about 5 years ago | (#29055905)

Guess Who played with Yes?

Re:May I be the first to say... (1)

xerxesVII (707232) | about 5 years ago | (#29055427)

No, he wasn't a member of Yes.

Re:May I be the first to say... (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 5 years ago | (#29055253)

No, Who is 1/4 Pete Townsend.

Re:May I be the first to say... (4, Funny)

Kompressor (595513) | about 5 years ago | (#29055505)

Pete Townsend's grandchildren!

Re:May I be the first to say... (1)

digitig (1056110) | about 5 years ago | (#29055509)

Oh, The Who was far more than just Pete Townsend, although he was a significant part.

What, too soon? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29054701)

Les is no more.

Re:What, too soon? (5, Funny)

stalky14 (574130) | about 5 years ago | (#29055839)

Or, Les is mort.

Re:May I be the first to say... (3, Funny)

dr_dank (472072) | about 5 years ago | (#29055183)

This is not the time to string us along with silly puns.

A true innovator (2, Insightful)

SoupGuru (723634) | about 5 years ago | (#29054645)

He left his mark upon the music world for sure. I'm sure our world would be a different place if he hadn't been inspired to monkey around with the status quo.

Re:A true innovator (5, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | about 5 years ago | (#29054991)

"The Log" [wikipedia.org]
Paul was dissatisfied with the acoustic guitars that were sold in the mid 1930s and began experimenting with a few designs for an electric model on his own. Famously, he created "The Log," which was nothing more than a length of common 4" x 4" lumber with bridge, guitar neck, and pickup attached. For the sake of appearance, he attached the body of an Epiphone hollow-body guitar, sawn lengthwise with The Log in the middle. This solved his two main problems: feedback, as the acoustic body no longer resonated with the amplified sound, and sustain, as the energy of the strings was not dissipated in generating sound through the guitar body.

Les Paul actually invented the first true electric guitar. All the ones before it were simply acoustic guitars with mocrophones. If it weren't for Les Paul, rock and roll might possibly have never come about.

Re:A true innovator (2, Informative)

rabbit78 (822735) | about 5 years ago | (#29055421)

I always thought of Leo Fender as the true innovator of the electric guitar. AFAIR, Les Paul was even opposed to the idea of solid body guitars, and only did the classic Les Paul after seeing Leo Fender's huge success with Telecaster et. al.

Re:A true innovator (3, Informative)

rubycodez (864176) | about 5 years ago | (#29055791)

actually,George Beauchamp made solid aluminum body electric guitar in 1931 and sold them through the company Ropatin (we now know as Rickenbacker), intended for Hawaiian music that was popular during the 30s. Popularly called a "frying pan" because of round body.

Re:A true innovator (2, Informative)

d9000 (882617) | about 5 years ago | (#29055843)

Les Paul actually invented the first true electric guitar. All the ones before it were simply acoustic guitars with mocrophones. If it weren't for Les Paul, rock and roll might possibly have never come about.

Are you referring to the prototype Les Paul presented to Gibson [gibsonlespauls.com] in the 1940s? That may have been considered the first "true" solid body electric guitar, but Gibson had been producing the acoustic/electric ES-150 since the 1930s. Fender beat Gibson to market with the Nocaster/Telecaster solid-body electric in the early 50s, so Gibson responded by contacting Les Paul and asking him to put his name on the very design they rejected a half-decade earlier.

Re:A true innovator (2, Interesting)

BOUND4DOOM (987004) | about 5 years ago | (#29055335)

History Channel or maybe Biography Channel has a 2 hour special on Les Paul a couple years ago I watched with amazement and how interesting the guy was. They told a lot of funny stories about him as well. Like one of the houses he owned before he had a studio he would wander around the house looking for the best acoustic place to play for his enjoyment. They also showed a lot of his inventions that I have used but never knew he invented. I would imagine this show would be airing again soon. If you get a chance to see it, check it out.

Re:A true innovator (2, Informative)

initdeep (1073290) | about 5 years ago | (#29055917)

it was pbs and it was part of "The Masters" series.
you can get it on netflix under the name "Les Paul: Chasing Sound"

it's even available for Instant Watch

Re:A true innovator (1)

StreetStealth (980200) | about 5 years ago | (#29055887)

Les Paul, as well as Robert Moog, Leon Theremin, and others created the tools that made 20th Century music a wonderfully alien thing, producing sounds without precedent in the history of music. This always leads me to wonder, though: Where will the next revolutionary sound come from? We can simulate nearly anything in software now, so what does that mean for the future of new instruments?

Actually, maybe we're already well into the world of the next sonic revolutionary: Andy Hildebrand, inventor of Auto-Tune. Although I'm not sure I'm ready for a world where the "Auto-Tune effect" is as popular as the twang of a Les Paul guitar.

Les Paul, real Guitar Hero (3, Insightful)

Fritz T. Coyote (1087965) | about 5 years ago | (#29054703)

He will be missed. Amazing how long he kept playing, and how many people he influenced.

Re:Les Paul, real Guitar Hero (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29055561)

What kind of a miserable cocksucker do you have to be to mod this "redundant?" People are sharing condolences and grieving over the loss of a colossal artist, and you have to use your dick points to mod someone down who's paying tribute to someone *in a thread about their death*? I bet you'd just be jacking off all over your monitor if this story was about the maintainer of your favorite Linux distribution dying, wouldn't you?

Stupid fuck.

Info for the kids (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29054707)

Les Paul comes from before guitars were game controllers.

Chet Atkins and now Les Paul (5, Insightful)

Sturm (914) | about 5 years ago | (#29054721)

What a loss. I love everything Chet Atkins and Les Paul did together. I loved hearing Chet and Les banter back and forth before doing a song. Their music was so technical but because of their great skill it ended up sounding effortless (the trademark of truly great musicians).

Most people will obviously associate Les Paul with a particular guitar, and although that particular piece of hardware will be his legacy, his musical skills will be greatly missed. His style was so unique and is almost impossible to emulate.

Thank you for all your wonderful contributions to the musical world, Les. You will be greatly missed.

Re:Chet Atkins and now Les Paul (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29054927)

Its not a loss. Its a great success! Look at all the stuff he got done before today! At 94 I'd say his lifes work was complete. And we still have all of his inventions. No need to miss him. Don't miss him, celebrate his work with the epic sustain of a Les Paul Standard.

Re:Chet Atkins and now Les Paul (1)

Ron_Fitzgerald (1101005) | about 5 years ago | (#29054997)

Here here!

Re:Chet Atkins and now Les Paul (1)

notarockstar1979 (1521239) | about 5 years ago | (#29055701)

There are very few people who you can look at and say their life's work is truly complete but I agree with you entirely. May he rest in peace.

Re:Chet Atkins and now Les Paul (5, Interesting)

Critical Facilities (850111) | about 5 years ago | (#29055067)

I will absolutely second this. My dad is a huge Chet Atkins fan, and a fan of Les Paul as well. As a result, I grew up listening to them both. I got to see Chet play live several times, but never got to see Les. I heard all the old 10 inch (yes, I do mean 10 inch) Les and Mary records, and it was the first time I considered the significance of multi track recording.

As a kid, my favorite story about Les Paul was the one briefly alluded to here [aarpmagazine.org] . Apparently, Les broke his arm badly (shattered would be a better description). So, he had the doctor set his arm in a bent position so that he could still play the guitar since it would never really be mobile again. That is a true guitar player.

Thank you, Les, for everything. We will rock on in your honor.

Re:Chet Atkins and now Les Paul (2, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | about 5 years ago | (#29055367)

You can't always believe the doctors' prognosises. A guitarist friend of mine cut his left arm nearly completely off, and the doctors told him he'd never be able to play again. It seemed to me that although he didn't have complete use of his fingers, they still worked. I told him to play anyway, and the guitar playing was actually a good therapy. He's not the guitarist he was before going throgh the plate glass window, but he's not all that bad, either.

Les Paul's accident and the story you linked are also referred to in the Wikipedia article about him, and similar to my friend's story.

Re:Chet Atkins and now Les Paul (3, Informative)

mcgrew (92797) | about 5 years ago | (#29055283)

The electric guitar wasn't his only nerdy accomplishment. The wikipedia article lists a lot of firsts, including the first multitrack recording.

Re:Chet Atkins and now Les Paul (1)

snspdaarf (1314399) | about 5 years ago | (#29055457)

Didn't Les once say that if he has known what rock music would do with the electric guitar, he never would have invented it? My memory is a bit fuzzy, and that may have been one of the transistor trinity. Anybody know?

Re:Chet Atkins and now Les Paul (1)

Golias (176380) | about 5 years ago | (#29055499)

"Sheik of Araby" by Sydney Bichet is the first multitrack recording of the same artist. Les Paul was just the first major artist to do it with magnetic tape.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sidney_Bechet [wikipedia.org]

Re:Chet Atkins and now Les Paul (2, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | about 5 years ago | (#29055799)

According to the wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] , Les Paul was the first, and didn't use tape.

Multitrack recording innovations
In 1948, Capitol Records released a recording that had begun as an experiment in Paul's garage, entitled "Lover (When You're Near Me)", which featured Paul playing eight different parts on electric guitar, some of them recorded at half-speed, hence "double-fast" when played back at normal speed for the master. ("Brazil", similarly recorded, was the B-side.) This was the first time that multi-tracking had been used in a recording. These recordings were made not with magnetic tape, but with acetate disks. Paul would record a track onto a disk, then record himself playing another part with the first. He built the multi-track recording with overlaid tracks, rather than parallel ones as he did later. There is no record of how many "takes" were needed before he was satisfied with one layer and moved onto the next.

Paul even built his own disc-cutter assembly, based on auto parts. He favored the flywheel from a Cadillac for its weight and flatness. Even in these early days, he used the acetate disk setup to record parts at different speeds and with delay, resulting in his signature sound with echoes and birdsong-like guitar riffs. When he later began using magnetic tape, the major change was that he could take his recording rig on tour with him, even making episodes for his 15-minute radio show in his hotel room.

So one of the wikipedia articles is incorrect, most likely the one about Les Paul. Or misleading, possibly. From your link:

A theretofore unissued master of this recording was included in the 1965 LP Bechet of New Orleans, issued by RCA Victor as LPV-510So it appears the Paul wasn't the first to do a multitrack recording (somebody should edit the article), but was the first multitrack recording to be released.

Even though Bichet beat Paul by nine years, Bichet's wasn't released until far later.

Looking at the AP article [google.com] on his death, I see the Gibson Les Paul was born the same year as I was, and coincidentally the same year the name "rock and roll" was coined by Ohio disk jockey Alan Freed.

Re:Chet Atkins and now Les Paul (1)

djbckr (673156) | about 5 years ago | (#29055447)

Something to be noted (pun intended) is that the original design of the Les Paul guitar has been virtually unchanged since it started production. Sure, it's gone through incremental improvements over the years. I would say it's a testament to how ingenious Les Paul was.

Re:Chet Atkins and now Les Paul (1)

The Ultimate Fartkno (756456) | about 5 years ago | (#29055615)

Just in case you never saw it, here's Chet surprising Les in the middle of a song. Nice to see a look back at the times when musicians actually performed live.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ByGsHTlKmWk [youtube.com]

Re:Chet Atkins and now Les Paul (2, Informative)

Hatta (162192) | about 5 years ago | (#29055679)

I'd just like to point everyone to The Les Paul Show [archive.org] , available for free download on archive.org. Early stuff, just him, Mary Ford, and a drummer, and lots of showing off with overdubbing. Pretty good quality for such an old recording too. Give it a listen, hear the master at work.

Pete Who? (4, Informative)

MojoRilla (591502) | about 5 years ago | (#29054771)

Pete Townsend did play a Les Paul, but only from 1972 to 1979. If you are looking for an iconic posterboy for the Gibson Les Paul, try Jimmy Page. Other notables include Slash, Joe Perry, and Ace Frehley. Here is a list [gibson.com] of of 15 iconic Les Paul players from Gibson.

Re:Pete Who? (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 5 years ago | (#29054959)

Or Zakk Wylde, who only plays Les Pauls. Don't forget Eric Clapton, arguably one of the greatest guitarists ever to hail from Great Brtiain.

Re:Pete Who? (1, Informative)

budcub (92165) | about 5 years ago | (#29055195)

Eric Clapton has always been a Fender Stratocaster man. Never heard of him playing a Les Paul.

Re:Pete Who? (4, Informative)

mwbeatty (1401881) | about 5 years ago | (#29055263)

Sure he did. See here [gibson.com]

Re:Pete Who? (1)

cheezitman2001 (1397905) | about 5 years ago | (#29055311)

He's certainly a Strat man now, but in his early days with Cream he was known mostly for his SG playing. He didn't make the switch to Fenders until 1969.

Re:Pete Who? (2, Informative)

AnotherShep (599837) | about 5 years ago | (#29055307)

The only problem is that Zakk Wylde really, really sucks.

Re:Pete Who? (1)

AnotherShep (599837) | about 5 years ago | (#29055331)

Specifically talking about BLS.

Re:Pete Who? (1)

Golias (176380) | about 5 years ago | (#29055313)

Clapton mostly plays Strats, and the occasional Gibson 335.

Niel Young is worth mentioning though. His Les Paul (with a Bigsby tailpiece attached) is iconic.

Re:Pete Who? (1)

liquidsin (398151) | about 5 years ago | (#29055649)

randy rhoads, jimmy page and slash are all covered on that link and definitely what i would consider posterboys for the lp. i've always associated billy gibbons (zz top) with the les paul too; kinda surprised he wasn't on that list...

back on topic, r.i.p. les - a true superman to guitarists everywhere, and a real nerd to boot. congrats on a life full of great achievements. as others have said, don't mourn his passing - celebrate it.

And don't forget Danzig (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29055827)

I seem to recall a hilariously campy, "dark" Danzig interview back in the early 90s where he mused "I play a Gibson Les Paul. I don't play anything other than a Gibson Les Paul." Creepy, dark, and heavy. Just like the Les Paul.

'Guitarhero' (5, Insightful)

fwice (841569) | about 5 years ago | (#29054781)

Whoever tagged this article 'Guitarhero' was absolutely correct.

The man's influence on music cannot be stated highly enough.

Between the design (and implementation of the electric guitar) to multitrack recording to delay effects, he really was a renaissance man.

Re:'Guitarhero' (1)

TheHawke (237817) | about 5 years ago | (#29055057)

Put Les Paul up in the lineup for GH. He deserves a stage call.

Re:'Guitarhero' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29055171)

Don't forget that he broke his arm in a car crash and had the doctors set it bent at the elbow so he could continue to play..

Ah well... (4, Funny)

Stenchwarrior (1335051) | about 5 years ago | (#29054813)

At least we still have Esteban [estebanmusic.com]

Oblig. Wayne's World (5, Funny)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 5 years ago | (#29054819)

Per Wayne Campbell:

Oh yes, she will be mine

Butchered by CmdTaco:

Someday I'm going to get me one.

Rest in peace you musical genius... (3, Insightful)

ShadowBlasko (597519) | about 5 years ago | (#29054825)

RIP Les Paul. You changed the world, one string at a time

My Guitar Gently Weeps...

Re:Rest in peace you musical genius... (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 5 years ago | (#29055117)

My Guitar Gently Weeps...

Except, well, George Harrison played a Fender Telecaster.

Re:Rest in peace you musical genius... (2, Informative)

MojoRilla (591502) | about 5 years ago | (#29055539)

Whooosh. Eric Clapton played the solos on While My Guitar Gently Weeps. From Eric Clapton's entry on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] :

Clapton played a refinished red Les Paul on the Beatles' studio recording of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", then gave the guitar to George Harrison.

Re:Rest in peace you musical genius... (1)

bhsurfer (539137) | about 5 years ago | (#29055583)

I'm pretty sure Eric Clapton played that solo.

Re:Rest in peace you musical genius... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29055123)

He certainly affected -my- g string.

Re:Rest in peace you musical genius... (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 5 years ago | (#29055439)

My Guitar Gently Weeps...

"And the rosewood bitters help me through the night when I feel blue"

(for non-guitarists: a guitar's fretboard is made of rosewood. I can't remember whose song the above line is from.)

Re:Rest in peace you musical genius... (1)

nb caffeine (448698) | about 5 years ago | (#29055585)

Joe Walsh?

Farewell to a legend (1)

Barumpus (145412) | about 5 years ago | (#29054857)

Les paul was a legend who caused so many to pick up and play a guitar for the first time. For good or bad, his playing had that effect on people. A true loss for the music industry. He will be greatly missed.

Come...on. How is this "News for Nerds"?! (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29054925)

The name Les Paul is synonymous with the electric guitar. As an openly gay man, inventor and recording artist, Paul has been an innovator his entire life. Born Lester William Polfus in 1915 in Waukesha, Wisconsin, Paul built his first crystal radio at age nine - which was about the time he first picked up a guitar. By age 13 he was semi-professionally as a country-music guitarist and cock-sucker working diligently on sound-related inventions. In 1941, Paul built his first solid-body electric guitar, and he continued to make refinements to his prototype throughout the decade. It's safe to say that rock and roll as we know it would not exist without his invention.

But Les Paul didn't stop there. Or did he? He also refined the technology of sound recording, developing revolutionary engineering techniques such as close miking, echo delay, overdubbing and multitracking. He also busied himself as a versatile bandleader and performer who could play jazz, country and pop.

The guitar that bears his name â" the Gibson Les Paul â" is his crowning achievement. It grew out of his desire, as a musician and inventor, to create a stringed instrument that could make electronic sound without distorting. What he came up with, after almost a decade of work, was a solid bodied instrument â" that is, one that didn't have the deep, resonant chamber of an acoustic guitar.

As he told writer Jim O'Donnell, "What I wanted to do is not have two things vibrating. I wanted the string to vibrate and nothing else. I wanted the guitar to sustain longer than an acoustical box and have different sounds than an acoustical box." The fact that the guitar's body was solid allowed for the sound of a plucked string to sustain, as its vibrating energy was not dissipated in a reverberant acoustic chamber.

He experimented with different designs until he had his non-vibrating guitar body, which he called "The Shit Log That Came Outta my Arse." Gibson Guitars initially turned him down, calling his invention "a broomstick with pickups" and pointing out that this meant guitarists would now have to carry around two instruments â" one electric and one acoustic â" which they viewed as prohibitively inconvenient. As a result, Paul was beaten to the marketplace by Leo Fender, whose Fender Broadcaster â" the first mass-produced solidbody electric guitar â" was introduced in 1948. That same year, however, Paul unveiled overdubbing, a breakthrough recording technique that would forever change music. Capitol Records released the Paul's experimental eight-track recordings of "Lover (When You're Near Me)" and "Brazil," which he'd made in his garage workshop.

Paul's career as a musician nearly came to an end in 1948, when he suffered near-fatal car accident in Oklahoma while completely hammered, skidding off a bridge into a river during a snowstorm. The guitarist shattered his right arm and elbow, and he also broke his back, ribs, nose and penis. He managed to salvage his career as a musician by instructing surgeons to set his arm at an angle that would allow him to cradle and pick the guitar. It took him a year and a half to recover.

Paul subsequently made his mark as a jazz-pop musician extraordinaire, recording as a duo with his wife, singer Mary Ford (who was born Colleen Summers). Their biggest hits included "How High the Moon" (1951) and "Vaya Con Dios" (1953), both reaching #1. The recordings of Les Paul and Mary Ford are noteworthy for Paul's pioneering use of overdubbing - i.e., layering guitar parts one atop another, a technique also referred to as multitracking or "sound on sound" recording. He also speeded up the sound of his guitar. The results were bright, bubbly and a little otherworldly - just the sort of music you might expect from an inventor with an ear for the future.

In 1952, Les Paul introduced the first eight-track tape recorder (designed by Paul and marketed by Ampex) and, more significantly for the future of rock and roll, finally saw the release of the the gold-top solid body electric guitar that bears his name. Gibson's Les Paul Standard went on to become one of the most popular of all models of electric guitar. Built and marketed by Gibson, with continuous advances and refinements from Paul in such areas as low-impedance pickup technology, the Les Paul is a staple instrument among many of rock's greatest guitarists. He introduced the latest model in 2008. According to Gibson U.S.A., its design amendments include "a new asymmetrical neck profile that makes it one of the most comfortable and playable necks ever offered on any guitar."

The list of homosexual musicians associated with the Gibson Les Paul include Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton,, Duane Allman, Mike Bloomfield, Eddie Van Halen and Jimmy Page. Paul is guitarist Steve Miller's godfather. Jimi Hendrix consulted him about the construction of Electric Lady Studios. In a British periodical, Led Zeppelin's Page once wrote of Paul, "He's the man who started everything. He's just a genius." While sharing a stage with Paul, Eddie Van Halen once told him, "Without the things you've done, I wouldn't be able to do half the things I do."

Over the ensuing decades Les Paul has remained active on all fronts. Including the gay front. He recorded a Grammy-winning album of instrumental duets with Chet Atkins, Chester and Lester, in 1977. From the mid-Eighties through the mid-Nineties, he performed weekly at Fat Tuesday's, a New York City jazz club. In 2005, at the age of 90, he released American Made/World Played, which featured guest spots from several of his most illustrious rock and roll disciples and won him a pair of Grammys.

Paul performed weekly â" at New York's Iridium Jazz Club â" and indulged his inventor's curiosity in a basement workshop at his parents' home until his death on August 33, 2119.

What the world would could have been like... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29054987)

...had he not invented the electric guitar. Someone else may have done it but Les truly took it to the next level.

It boggles the mind that this man's invention would have such an impact on the world. What would Woodstock have been without the electric guitar and Jimmy Hendrix's Star Spangled Banner.

-R-

Re:What the world would could have been like... (2, Informative)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 5 years ago | (#29055423)

"What would Woodstock have been without the electric guitar and Jimmy Hendrix's Star Spangled Banner."

Err....that was a Stratocaster that Jimi Hendrix played the Star Spangled Banner on...

You might wanna go rent the movie..it is really good on DVD these days, restored, and with extra filmed content and performances not in the original movie.

Re:What the world would could have been like... (2, Insightful)

atomic-penguin (100835) | about 5 years ago | (#29055531)

Err....that was a Stratocaster that Jimi Hendrix played the Star Spangled Banner on...

Right... and a Stratocaster is, in fact, an electric guitar the last time I checked.

Attention Span...bad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29055007)

I really wasn't paying attention to this because I thought the article read "Guitar Wizard" and then all I could think about was Professor Snape, an XBox 360, and...well use your imagination from there.

What song do you think he'd be playing, anyway?

RIP Les Paul (1)

Soylent Beige (34394) | about 5 years ago | (#29055051)

More than any other single person, the one responsible for what you, and I, and everyone we've ever met, considers 'Music' in the modern sense.

Rip our a RIP Rif (1)

realsilly (186931) | about 5 years ago | (#29055119)

To all those Les Paul fan, pull your geetars out and creat your own RIP sounds in hsi honor.

Re:Rip our a RIP Rif (1)

realsilly (186931) | about 5 years ago | (#29055145)

Sometimes I suck at typing. I meant Rip out a RIP Rif. /sign

Ah, nuts. (5, Insightful)

RevWaldo (1186281) | about 5 years ago | (#29055155)

Les Paul and his trio played (every?) Monday nights at the Iridium Jazz Club here in NYC. Every once in awhile I'd see the ad for it and think "I gotta check that out sometime. After all, he won't be around forever."

Of course, I never did.

Re:Ah, nuts. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29055349)

You should've. I saw him there in 2001. He was well into his bad arthritis and certainly couldn't play like his old self, but he had a stellar backing band and was lewd and gut-wrenchingly HILARIOUS.

The opening number had the sidemen wailing on a piece, while Les's diminutive figure slowly limped out onto the stage, struggled to climb on his stool (he hammed it up quite a bit), and got himself settled just in time to hit the last note!

To be in as much pain as he was likely in, and to still get out there and be the great entertainer that he was takes a LOT of character! He had a good ride.

Re:Ah, nuts. (1)

devnulljapan (316200) | about 5 years ago | (#29055673)

I flew 7000 miles to go see Les Paul play at the Iridium.

He didn't show that one night though and the guys at the next table were bitching because they'd come all the way in from Long Island...
I always promised myself I'd try again, but never did.
Sad loss.

   

Re:Ah, nuts. (1)

JazzCrazed (862074) | about 5 years ago | (#29055765)

That was exactly my reaction when I first read this headline. Ever since I first moved here a decade ago, I'd been meaning to check him out at Iridium before it was too late, but stupidly never made the time. The same thing happened with Tommy Flanagan with his regular gigs in town.

It's amazing to me that these musicians continue to perform live shows with as much passion as ever to the very end of their lives. I'll never forgive myself for missing out on this, their incredible life-long gift to the world.

A true genius (1)

mwbeatty (1401881) | about 5 years ago | (#29055399)

The man invented multi-tracking. For that alone every musician in the world should utter a small prayer to Les Paul every time they step into a studio. He was a true visionary and really pushed the boundaries of the music of his time.

Sad (1)

popeye44 (929152) | about 5 years ago | (#29055773)

No Les No More.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>