Tuesday, September 13, 2005


Les is more

The eternally feisty Les Paul turned 90 on June 9 of this year, which hasn't slowed him a whit. He records, keeps up his weekly gig at Manhattan's Iridium--although advancing arthritis is rumored to have simplified his style--and can still turn on a conversational dime. You want evidence? Here's a bit from a recent interview in Stereophile, where he discusses his invention of the iconic Gibson Les Paul guitar. Actually, he's talking about the Gibson's predecessor, a Frankenstein of an instrument he assembled out of old Epiphone parts nailed to a 4X4. He played this monstrosity, dubbed "The Log," on a number of late-1940s recordings for Capitol, before applying the lessons he'd learned to a prototype for Gibson in 1952:
Guitarists thought of it as an ironing board with a couple of pickups. It didn't ring right with a lot of players, especially those who wanted to play jazz and blues. But [my design] took an apologetic instrument and turned it into a vicious instrument. It can be a bartender, a mistress, and a psychologist. No one's gonna beat ya. You can just turn up the volume and blow anyone away.

James- thanks for highlighting Les Paul. He's an American treasure--electric guitar pioneer, studio wizard and as he showed everyone at his Carnegie Hall birthday concert, he can still pick it. And even his somewhat bawdy comments were amusing.

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