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Music Blog

Rock on, Les Paul

by Greg Wilcox
- Posted // 2009-08-13 -

At the ripe old age of 94, Les Paul died of pneumonia complications. His contribution to music, particularly rock and roll, rivals even than that of Jimi Hendrix. He not only made the iconic Gibson Les Paul guitar, but also created multi-track recording—an invaluable tool in the recording studio.

With Mary Ford, his wife from 1949 to 1962, Les Paul earned 36 gold records and 11 No. 1 pop hits, including "Vaya Con Dios," "How High the Moon," and "Lover." Many of their songs utilized the overdubbing techniques Paul invented, and inspired many future musicians to use the same techniques on their recordings.

Paul continued to play gigs in his nineties at The Iridium jazz club in New York, where he performed regularly on Monday nights since 1996.

After Paul's death, a number of musicians have shared their own thoughts and tributes to the father of the electric guitar. Here are a few:

"Les Paul and Mary Ford were among my most favorite musicians in the 50s. He was the first guy to do multi-guitar multitrack recording and that turned me on to guitars and stacking vocals for our records." — Brian Wilson

"Les Paul was a shining example of how full one's life can be, he was so vibrant and full of positive energy. I'm honored and humbled to have known and played with him over the years, he was an exceptionally brilliant man." — Slash

"Les Paul, along with Leo Fender, the most important developer of the electric guitar. He actually taught himself to play guitar in order to demonstrate his electronic theories. WOW!! All of us owe an unimaginable debt to his work and his talent. Mary Ford didn't hurt either." — Keith Richards

"Les is single handedly responsible for the direction and evolution of the modern rock movement. Period. If you are a fan of modern music, you owe Les Paul an enormous THANK YOU!" — Dave Navarro

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