RIP Les Paul - The Genius of Music and Electronics

gibson-les-paul-standardThats right…Lester Polfus (Les Paul) is dead. He died today (August 13th) of pneumonia. If you know who Les Paul is, then join with me in taking a look at his long and fantastic life.

Les Paul learned to play the harmonica, banjo and guitar in the first 13 years of his life. He then got his first professional guitar job at a cafe. This was when he invented the very first electric guitar. And the first solid-body guitar. Les Paul was not satisfied with acoustic guitars and decided that his guitar wasn’t loud enough so, way before the first transistor was invented, Les Paul messed around with his electronics, and made the first electric guitar.

This was Les Paul’s first invention. But, it wasn’t the last. Les Paul spent his life creating. So now, Les Paul has started off his life making and playing electric guitars. With no electronics training, he started playing more and more with guitars, and general electronics. He eventually created another world shaking invention.

In the mid 1900s, the only way to record more than 1 instrument was to play all the instruments at once and record them. Les Paul decided this was not right, as he needed to record more than 1 instrument, but didn’t want the annoyance of getting people to play them all at once. He dabbled into his electronics more and more, and created the very first multi-track recorder.

This was the very first thing that you could record one instrument with, the play back and record another instrument over it. At this time, Les Paul married his wide, Mary Ford. With Mary, he recorded a number of albums on his multi-track recording, which included 3 tracks of Mary singing in harmony, and a full band behind her.

Les Paul and Mary Ford

Lester’s multi track recorder paved the way for the music industry to boom, and create amazing things that could never have been created before.

In January 1948, Paul was injured in a near-fatal car accident  which shattered every bone in his right arm and elbow.

Doctors told him that there was no way for them to rebuild his elbow in a way that would let him regain movement, and that his arm would remain permanently in whatever position they placed it in.

Les then instructed the surgeons to set his arm at an angle that would allow him to cradle and pick the guitar. Talk about dedication to playing the guitar. This just shows him being such a fantastic man who loved his guitar.

Les created a number of albums, one of which he won a grammy award for.

Of course, no mention of Les Paul would be complete without mention of the iconic guitar that is named after him.

Truly, Lester William Polfus was an amazingly clever man, with a nack for electronics, music and inventing. He is a great example of a man who saw a problem, and created something to fix it. He spent his life creating things to solve annoyances, and he lived a fantastic, successful life, which also made a lot of people’s lifes easier.

Les will be sorely missed in the world, and he was a fantastic guitar player, even one of the greatest guitar players ever, and certanarily one of the greatest inventors in the world. Period.

I will leave you with a picture of my lovely Gibson Les Paul Faded Double Cutaway in Cherry Red.

Les Paul