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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Final curtain

The other day, when we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the birth of Leo Fender, we were careful to identify Fender as "one of the fathers of the electric guitar." This was our way of acknowledging the other father, Les Paul. Alas, today comes the news that Paul has died at age 94.

Paul was a player, a songwriter, and a major entertainer as well as an inventor of sound equipment. If you've got a Les Paul model guitar, play a gentle riff tonight in his memory.

Comments (7)

I'm spinning my vinyl version of "Chester & Lester" right now. His innovations allowed me my career. Great man and a great, full life.

'73 Les Paul Deluxe - I bought at a pawn shop in NE Portland for 175 dollars in 1981. That mother WAILS!!!

I was in McKenzie River Music in Eugene during a lunch break on a business trip a couple of years ago. I walked in when some guy was wailing on a Les Paul flametop in the back room.

When he was done playing, he went to raise the strap over his head and a very nervous looking fellow reached over and said, "Wait. Let me help." I asked the guy why he insisted on helping the player unstrap himself from the guitar and he replied, "Because this guitar is worth $200,000."

I didn't get the details on why it was worth so much, but it was obviously an extremely rare, vintage Les Paul and I fully understood why the guy was nervous to have it out of the case.

It's hard to get one's head around a guitar being worth a nice house, but there you go.

Rest in Peace, LP.

He was a legend in his own time. One of my favorite CDs is "Les Paul and Mary Ford's Greatest Hits."

....somewhere there's music, how high the moon...


Besides the great sound that Les Paul enabled so many -- like the Allman Brothers* -- to broadcast, his performances with Chet Atkins are sublime, and for all time.

Les Paul in New York - 1999
The innovative guitarist Les Paul performing with his Trio at a New York jazz club in 1999 on the occasion of his 84th Birthday. These edited highlights from the show feature this legendary artist playing some of his memorable record hits from the 1950s: Someday Sweetheart - Caravan - How High The Moon - Little Rock Getaway & Just One More Chance.


*The Allman Brothers Band with Duane - In Memory of Elizabeth Reed - Fillmore East - 09/23/1970

+ These are the last two songs from the last show Duane played with the Bros. "that there's a recording of." (Oct. 15, 1971 @ Syria Mosque, Pittsburgh PA):

Revival, Trouble No More

Very sad loss. On the bright side, the man was performing and making music up until very recently. Everyone should be so fortunate.

Don't know if it'll load properly, but here's a photo of my girlfriend's grandfather washing dishes with Mr. Paul when they lived in a shared apartment in New York in 1941:

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