Les Paul

Lester William Polsfuss (June 9, 1915 – August 12, 2009), known as Les Paul, was an American jazz, country, and blues guitarist, songwriter, luthier, and inventor. He was one of the pioneers of the solid-body electric guitar, and his techniques served as inspiration for the Gibson Les Paul. Paul taught himself how to play guitar, and while he is mainly known for jazz and popular music, he had an early career in country music.[1] He is credited with many recording innovations. Although he was not the first to use the technique, his early experiments with overdubbing (also known as sound on sound),[2] delay effects such as tape delay, phasing effects and multitrack recording were among the first to attract widespread attention.[3]

His innovative talents extended into his playing style, including licks, trills, chording sequences, fretting techniques and timing, which set him apart from his contemporaries and inspired many guitarists of the present day.[4][5][6][7] He recorded with his wife, the singer and guitarist Mary Ford, in the 1950s, and they sold millions of records.

Among his many honors, Paul is one of a handful of artists with a permanent, stand-alone exhibit in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.[8] He is prominently named by the music museum on its website as an "architect" and a "key inductee" with Sam Phillips and Alan Freed.[9] Les Paul is the only person to be included in both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the National Inventors Hall of Fame.[10]

Les Paul
Les Paul live 3
Les Paul playing a Gibson Les Paul at the Iridium Jazz Club in New York City, 2008
Background information
Birth nameLester William Polsfuss
BornJune 9, 1915
Waukesha, Wisconsin, U.S.
DiedAugust 12, 2009 (aged 94)
White Plains, New York, U.S.
Genres
Occupation(s)
  • Inventor
  • musician
  • songwriter
InstrumentsGuitar
Years active1928–2009
Associated actsMary Ford
Websitewww.lespaulfoundation.org

Early life

Paul was born Lester William Polsfuss[11] in Waukesha, Wisconsin, to George[10] and Evelyn (Stutz) Polsfuss. His family was of German ancestry.[12] Paul's mother was related to the founders of Milwaukee's Valentin Blatz Brewing Company and the makers of the Stutz automobile.[13] His parents divorced when he was a child.[14] His mother simplified their Prussian family name first to Polfuss, then to Polfus, although Les Paul never legally changed his name. Before taking the stage name Les Paul, he also performed as Red Hot Red[15] and Rhubarb Red.[16]

At the age of eight, Paul began playing the harmonica. After trying to learn the piano, he switched to the guitar. It was during this time that he invented a neck-worn harmonica holder, which allowed him to play both sides of the harmonica hands-free while accompanying himself on the guitar. It is still manufactured using his basic design.[17] By age thirteen, Paul was performing semi-professionally as a country-music singer, guitarist, and harmonica player. While playing at the Waukesha area drive-ins and roadhouses, Paul began his first experiment with sound. Wanting to make himself heard by more people at the local venues, he wired a phonograph needle to his guitar and connected it to a radio speaker, using that to amplify his acoustic guitar.[18] As a teen Paul experimented with sustain by using a 2-foot piece of rail from a nearby train line.[19] At age seventeen, Paul played with Rube Tronson's Texas Cowboys, and soon after he dropped out of high school to team up with Sunny Joe Wolverton's Radio Band in St. Louis, Missouri, on KMOX.

Career

Early career

Paul moved to Chicago in 1934, where he continued to perform on radio stations WBBM and WLS. He met pianist Art Tatum, whose playing influenced him to stick with the guitar rather than original plans of taking on the piano.[20] His first two records were released in 1936, credited to "Rhubarb Red", Paul's hillbilly alter ego. He also served as an accompanist for a few other bands signed to Decca. During this time he began adding different sounds and adopted his stage name of Les Paul.[21]

Paul's guitar style was strongly influenced by the music of Django Reinhardt, whom he greatly admired.[22] Following World War II, Paul sought out and made friends with Reinhardt. When Reinhardt died in 1953, Paul paid for part of the funeral's cost.[23] One of Paul's prized possessions was a Selmer Maccaferri acoustic guitar given to him by Reinhardt's widow.[15]

Paul formed a trio in 1937 with rhythm guitarist Jim Atkins[24] (older half-brother of guitarist Chet Atkins) and bassist/percussionist Ernie "Darius" Newton. They left Chicago for New York in 1938,[25] landing a featured spot with Fred Waring's radio show. Chet Atkins later wrote that his brother, home on a family visit, presented him with an expensive Gibson archtop guitar that Les Paul had given to Jim. Chet recalled that it was the first professional-quality instrument he ever owned.[26]

Paul was dissatisfied with acoustic-electric guitars and began experimenting at his apartment in Queens, New York with a few designs of his own. Famously, he created several versions of "The Log", which was a length of common 4x4 lumber with a bridge, neck, strings, 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. These instruments were constantly being improved and modified over the years, and Paul continued to use them in his recordings long after the development of his eponymous Gibson model.

In 1945, Richard D. Bourgerie made an electric guitar pickup and amplifier for professional guitar player George Barnes. Bourgerie worked through World War II at Howard Radio Company making electronic equipment for the American military. Barnes showed the result to Les Paul, who arranged for Bourgerie to have one made for him.

While experimenting in his apartment in 1941,[25] Paul nearly succumbed to electrocution. During two years of recuperation, he moved to Hollywood, supporting himself by producing radio music and forming a new trio. During this time, he was remembered by factory workers as a frequent visitor to the Electro String Instrument Corp. shop on Western Avenue in Los Angeles, where he observed production of Rickenbacker brand guitars and amplifiers.

He was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943,[25] where he served in the Armed Forces Radio Network, backing such artists as Bing Crosby, the Andrews Sisters, and performing in his own right.[27]

Les Paul, ca. Jan. 1947 (William P. Gottlieb 07001)
Les Paul, c. January 1947 (Photograph by William P. Gottlieb)

As a last-minute replacement for Oscar Moore, Paul played with Nat King Cole and other artists in the inaugural Jazz at the Philharmonic concert in Los Angeles, California, on July 2, 1944. His solo on "Body and Soul" is a demonstration both of his admiration for and emulation of the playing of Django Reinhardt, as well as his development of original lines.

Also that year, Paul's trio appeared on Bing Crosby's radio show. Crosby sponsored Paul's recordings. They recorded together several times, including "It's Been a Long, Long Time", which was a No. 1 hit in 1945. Paul recorded a few albums for Decca Records in the 1940s. He was enamoured by the Andrews Sisters, who hired his trio to open for them during a tour in 1946. Their manager, Lou Levy, said watching Paul's fingers while he played guitar was like watching a train go by.[28] Their conductor, Vic Schoen, said his playing was always original.[28] Maxine Andrews said, "He'd tune into the passages we were singing and lightly play the melody, sometimes in harmony. We'd sing these fancy licks and he'd keep up with us note for note in exactly the same rhythm...almost contributing a fourth voice. But he never once took the attention away from what we were doing. He did everything he could to make us sound better."[28] In the 1950s, when he recorded Mary Paul's vocals on multiple tracks, he created music that sounded like the Andrews Sisters.[28]

In January 1948, Paul shattered his right arm and elbow in a near-fatal automobile accident on an icy Route 66 west of Davenport, Oklahoma. Mary Ford was driving the Buick convertible, which plunged off the side of a railroad overpass and dropped twenty feet into a ravine; they were returning from Wisconsin to Los Angeles after visiting family.[25] Doctors at Oklahoma City's Wesley Presbyterian Hospital told Paul that they could not rebuild his elbow. Their other option was amputation. Paul was flown to Los Angeles, where his arm was set at an angle—just under 90 degrees—that allowed him to cradle and pick the guitar. It took him nearly a year and a half to recover.[29]

Guitar builder

Daves58historic
Gibson '58 Reissue Les Paul guitar (2005)

In 1940, Les Paul created a prototype instrument, a one-off solid-body electric guitar known as "The Log", which he fashioned from a four-foot wooden board. The Log was built after-hours by Paul at the Epiphone guitar factory, and is one of the first solid-body electric guitars.[30][31] Earlier solid-body electric guitars include Paul Tutmarc’s Audiovox electric bass in 1936 and Rickenbacker’s guitars of the 1930s. In 1948 Paul A. Bigsby built a custom solid-body electric guitar for Merle Travis, and c. 1949 he built one for Les Paul (though Les kept this a secret for many years)[32] In 1948 Leo Fender created his own Fender "Esquire".

Although Paul had approached the Gibson Guitar Corporation with his idea of a solid-body electric guitar in 1941,[25] it showed no interest until Fender began marketing its Esquire and Broadcaster guitars in 1950 (The Broadcaster was renamed the Telecaster in 1952).

Gibson’s Ted McCarty was the chief designer of the guitar later dubbed the Gibson Les Paul, and entered into a promotional and financial arrangement with Les Paul, paying him a royalty on sales.[33] Paul made design suggestions such as a change to the tailpiece. The guitar went on sale in 1952.

Problems with the strength of the body and neck made Paul dissatisfied with the new Gibson guitar. This, and a pending divorce from Mary Ford, led to Paul ending his endorsement and use of his name on Gibson guitars until 1966, by which time his divorce was completed.[34]

A less-expensive version of the Les Paul guitar is manufactured for Gibson's Epiphone brand.[35]

Paul continued to seek technical improvements, although they were not always successful commercially. For example, in 1962, Paul was issued US Patent No. 3,018,680, for a pickup in which the coil was physically attached to the strings.[36] One of Paul's innovations became somewhat successful; unfortunately, it was not to his benefit. In the mid-1940s, he introduced an aluminum guitar with the tuning mechanisms below the bridge. As it had no headstock, only string attachments at the nut, it was the first "headless" guitar. Unfortunately, Paul's guitar was so sensitive to the heat from stage lights that it would not keep tune. This style was further developed by others, most successfully Ned Steinberger.[37]

Multitrack recording

In the 1940s, Paul was unhappy with the way his records sounded. He felt that his sound was not different from anyone else's. This thought struck him when his mother complimented him on a song she had heard on the radio, when in fact she had heard George Barnes, not Paul.[38] During the 1930s and 1940s, Paul experimented with techniques in private for many years before demonstrating them for others. He put his sound into a Bing Crosby song, "It's Been a Long, Long Time," which was a number-one single in 1945.[39]

After a recording session, Crosby suggested that Paul build a recording studio so he could produce the sound he wanted. Paul started his studio in the garage of his home on North Curson Street in Hollywood. The studio drew many vocalists and musicians who wanted the benefit of his expertise. His experiments included microphone placement, track speed, and recording overdubs. These methods resulted in a clarity previously unheard in this type of multitrack recording. People started to consider his recording techniques as instruments—as important to production as a guitar, bass, or drums.[40] (The house and studio still stand but were moved to Pasadena some time after Paul sold the house.)[41]

In 1949, Crosby gave him one of the first Ampex Model 200A reel to reel tape recorders.[25] Capitol Records released "Lover (When You're Near Me)", which had begun as an experiment in the garage with Paul playing eight different parts on electric guitar, some recorded at half-speed, hence "double-fast" when played back at normal speed for the master. This was the first time he used multitracking in a recording, though he had been shopping his multitracking technique unsuccessfully since the 1930s. His early multitrack recordings were made with acetate discs. He recorded a track onto a disk, then recorded himself playing another part with the first. He built the multitrack recording with overlaid tracks rather than parallel ones as he did later. By the time he had a result that satisfied him, he had discarded some five hundred recording disks.

He built a disc-cutter assembly based on automobile parts. He favored the flywheel from a Cadillac for its weight and flatness. He used the acetate disc setup to record parts at different speeds and with delay, resulting in his signature sound with echoes and birdsong-like guitar riffs. When he used magnetic tape, he could take his recording equipment on tour, making episodes for his fifteen-minute radio show in his hotel room. He worked with Ross Snyder on the design of the first eight-track recording deck built for him by Ampex for his home studio.[41][42]

Paul invented Sound on Sound recording using this machine by placing an additional playback head, located before the conventional erase/record/playback heads. This allowed Paul to play along with a previously recorded track, both of which were mixed together on to a new track. This was a mono tape recorder with just one track across the entire width of quarter-inch tape; thus, the recording was "destructive" in the sense that the original recording was permanently replaced with the new, mixed recording. He eventually enhanced this by using one tape machine to play back the original recording and a second to record the combined track. This preserved the original recording.[43]

In 1952, he invented the flange effect, where a sound phases in and out in harmonic tone. The first example of this can be heard on his song "Mammy's Boogie".[44][45]

Paul bought the first Ampex 8-track recorder in 1957.[43] Rein Narma built a custom 8-channel mixing console for him.[46] The mixing board included in-line equalization and vibrato effects. He named the recorder "The Octopus" and the mixing console "The Monster".[47] The name "octopus" was inspired by comedian W. C. Fields who was the first person Paul played his multi-tracked guitar experiments to. "He came to my garage to make a little record (in 1946)," Les recalled. "I played him the acetate of 'Lover' that I'd done. When he heard it, he said, 'My boy, you sound like an octopus.'"[48]

Les Paul and Mary Ford

Les Paul and Mary Ford 1954
Les Paul and Mary Ford in 1954

In the summer of 1945, Paul met country-western singer Iris Colleen Summers. They began working together in 1948, when she adopted the stage name Mary Ford. They married in 1949.

Their hits included "How High the Moon", "Bye Bye Blues", "Song in Blue", "Don'cha Hear Them Bells", "The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise", and "Vaya con Dios". The songs were recorded with multiple tracks where Ford harmonized with herself and Paul played several guitars.

Like Crosby, they used the recording technique known as close miking[41] where the microphone is less than 6 inches (15 cm) from the singer's mouth. This produces a more intimate, less reverberant sound than when a singer is 1 foot (30 cm) or more from the microphone. When using a pressure-gradient (uni- or bi-directional) microphone, it emphasizes low-frequency sounds in the voice due to the microphone's proximity effect and gives a more relaxed feel because the performer is not working as hard. The result is a singing style which diverged from the unamplified theater style of the musical comedies of the 1930s and 1940s.

Radio and television programs

Paul had hosted a 15-minute radio program, The Les Paul Show, on NBC Radio in 1950, featuring his trio (himself, Ford and rhythm player Eddie Stapleton) and his electronics, recorded from their home and with gentle humor between Paul and Ford bridging musical selections, some of which had already been successful on records, some of which anticipated the couple's recordings, and many of which presented re-interpretations of such jazz and pop selections as "In the Mood", "Little Rock Getaway", "Brazil", and "Tiger Rag". Over ten of these shows survive among old-time radio collectors today.[49]

The show also appeared on television a few years later with the same format, but excluding the trio and retitled The Les Paul & Mary Ford Show (also known as Les Paul & Mary Ford at Home) with "Vaya Con Dios" as the theme song. Sponsored by Warner–Lambert's Listerine mouthwash, it was aired on NBC television during 1954–1955, and then syndicated until 1960. The show aired five times a day, five days a week for only five minutes (one or two songs) long, and therefore was used as a brief interlude or fill-in in programming schedules. Since Paul created the entire show himself, including audio and video, he maintained the original recordings and was in the process of restoring them to current quality standards until his death.[50]

During his radio shows, Paul introduced the fictional "Les Paulverizer" device, which multiplies anything fed into it, such as a guitar sound or a voice. It was Paul's way of explaining how his single guitar could be multiplied to become a group of guitars. The device even became the subject of comedy, with Ford multiplying herself and her vacuum cleaner with it so she could finish the housework faster. Later, Paul created a real Les Paulverizer that he attached to his guitar. The invention allowed Paul to access pre-recorded layers of songs during live performances so he could replicate his recorded sound on stage.[51]

Later career

Les Paul
Les Paul, May 2004

In 1965, Paul went into semi-retirement, although he did return to the studio occasionally. He and Ford had divorced at the end of 1964 after she got tired of touring.[52] Paul's most recognizable recordings from then through the mid-1970s were an album for London Records/Phase 4 Stereo, Les Paul Now (1968), on which he updated some of his earlier hits; and two albums comprising a meld of jazz and country improvisation with guitar virtuoso Chet Atkins, backed by some of Nashville's celebrated studio musicians, Chester and Lester (1976) and Guitar Monsters (1978), for RCA Victor.

He played at slower tempos with a large pick that was easier to hold. In 2006, at the age of 90, he won two Grammy Awards at the 48th Annual Grammy Awards for his album Les Paul & Friends: American Made World Played. He also performed every Monday night with guitarist Lou Pallo, bassist Paul Nowinski (and later, Nicki Parrott), and guitarist Frank Vignola and for a few years, pianist John Colaianni. Paul, Pallo, and Nowinski performed at Fat Tuesdays and at the Iridium Jazz Club on Broadway.[53][54][55]

Composer Richard Stein sued Paul for plagiarism, charging that Paul's "Johnny (is the Boy for Me)" was taken from Stein's 1937 song "Sanie cu zurgălăi" (Romanian for "Sleigh with Bells"). In 2000, a cover version of "Johnny" by Belgian musical group Vaya Con Dios that credited Paul prompted another action by the Romanian Musical Performing and Mechanical Rights Society.[56][57]

Personal life

Les Paul laughing
Les Paul with pianist John Colianni

Les Paul married Virginia Webb in 1937.[58] They had two children, Russell (Rusty) (1941–2015), and Gene (Les Paul, Jr. born in 1944), who was named after actor-songwriter Gene Lockhart. After getting divorced in 1949, he married Mary Ford (born Iris Colleen Summers).[59] The best man and matron of honor were the parents of guitarist Steve Miller, whose family was from Milwaukee. Paul was Miller's godfather and his first guitar teacher.[60][61] They adopted a girl, Colleen, in 1958, and their son, Robert (Bobby), was born the following year. On November 30, 1954, they lost a daughter who was born prematurely and died when she was four days old.[59] They divorced in December 1964.[52]

Paul was a resident of Mahwah, New Jersey.[62]

In 1995, Paul established the Les Paul Foundation, which was designed to remain dormant until his death. The mission of the Foundation is to honor and share the life, spirit and legacy of Les Paul by supporting music education, engineering, and innovation as well as medical research.

Death

On August 12, 2009, Paul died of complications from pneumonia at White Plains Hospital in White Plains, New York.[63][64] After hearing about his death, many musicians commented on his importance. Slash called him "vibrant and full of positive energy", while Richie Sambora called him a "revolutionary in the music business". The Edge said, "His legacy as a musician and inventor will live on and his influence on rock and roll will never be forgotten."[65][66][67] On August 21, 2009, he was buried in Prairie Home Cemetery, Waukesha, Wisconsin.[68][69]

Awards and honors

Rog Les PaulEdit
Les Paul and audio engineer Roger Nichols, both winners of Technical Grammy Awards

In 2007, he was given the National Medal of Arts from U.S. President George W. Bush.[70]

He was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame (2005) for his development of the solid-body electric guitar.[71] He was also inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame (2005), the Big Band & Jazz Hall of Fame (1990), the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame (1996), and the New Jersey Hall of Fame (2010).[72] In 1988, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by guitarist Jeff Beck, who said, "I've copied more licks from Les Paul than I'd like to admit."

Two of his songs were entered into the Grammy Hall of Fame: "How High the Moon" and "Vaya Con Dios".[73][74] In 1976, he and Chet Atkins received the Grammy Award for Best Country Instrumental.[75] In 2005, he won Best Pop Instrumental for "Caravan" and Best Rock Instrumental for "69 Freedom Special."

In 1983, he received a Grammy Trustees Award for lifetime achievement. In 2001, he was honored with the Special Merit/Technical Grammy Award, which recognizes "individuals or institutions that have set the highest standards of excellence in the creative application of audio technology," a select award given to masters of audio innovation including Thomas Alva Edison, Leo Fender, and Beatles recording engineer Geoff Emerick.[76] In 2004, he received an Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award in Engineering and a Lifetime Achievement in Music Education from the Wisconsin Foundation for School Music.[75]

In 1960, he and Mary Ford received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[75]

In 2009, he was named one of the top ten electric guitarists of all time by Time magazine[77] and two years later the eighteenth greatest guitarist of all time by Rolling Stone magazine.[78] During the same year, his name was added to the Nashville Walk of Fame.[75]

Concerts and exhibitions

In July 2005, a 90th-birthday tribute concert was held at Carnegie Hall in New York City. After performances by Steve Miller, Peter Frampton, Jose Feliciano and a number of others, Paul was presented with a commemorative guitar from the Gibson Guitar Corporation.[79] Three years later, at a tribute concert at the State Theater in Cleveland, Ohio, he received the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's American Music Masters Award.[80] On June 9, 2015, a yearlong celebration of Paul's 100th birthday kicked off in Times Square with performances by musicians including Steve Miller, Jose Feliciano, and Neal Schon, a memorabilia exhibition, and a proclamation from the Les Paul Foundation declaring June 9 as Les Paul Day.[81]

In 2007, the biographical film Les Paul Chasing Sound was aired on the public television series American Masters. The film contained interviews with Les Paul, performances by his trio on his 90th birthday, and interview commentary and performances by other musicians.[82]

In June 2008, an exhibit showcasing his legacy and featuring items from his personal collection opened at Discovery World in Milwaukee.[83] The exhibit was facilitated by a group of local musicians under the name Partnership for the Arts and Creative Excellence (PACE).[84] Paul played a concert in Milwaukee to coincide with the opening of the exhibit.[85] Paul's hometown of Waukesha, Wisconsin, opened a permanent exhibit titled "The Les Paul Experience" at the Waukesha County Museum in June 2013. The exhibit features artifacts on loan from the Les Paul Foundation. A self-guided tour of Les Paul's Waukesha was created by the Les Paul Foundation.[86][87]

In 2009, the concert film Les Paul Live in New York was aired on public television showing Les Paul performing on his 90th birthday at the Iridium Jazz Club in New York and in archival clips.[88]

Discography

Hit singles

Year Single Chart positions
US CB US Country UK[89]
1945 "It's Been a Long, Long Time" (with Bing Crosby) 1
1946 "Rumors Are Flying" (with The Andrews Sisters) 4
1948 "Lover" 21
"Brazil" 22
"What Is This Thing Called Love?" 11
1950 "Nola" 9
"Goofus" 21
"Little Rock Getaway" 18
"Tennessee Waltz" 6
1951 "Jazz Me Blues" 23
"Mockin' Bird Hill"(gold record) 2 7
"How High the Moon"(gold record)A 1
"Josephine" 12
"I Wish I Had Never Seen Sunshine" 18
"The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise"(gold record) 2
"Whispering" 7
"Just One More Chance" 5
"Jingle Bells" 10
1952 "Tiger Rag" 2
"I'm Confessin'" 13
"Carioca" 14
"In the Good Old Summertime" 15
"Smoke Rings" 14
"Meet Mister Callaghan" 5 4
"Take Me in Your Arms and Hold Me" 15 22
"Lady of Spain" 8
"My Baby's Comin' Home" 7 11
1953 "Bye Bye Blues" 5 14
"I'm Sittin' On Top of the World" 10 8
"Sleep" 21 31
"Vaya Con Dios"(gold record) 1 1 7
"Johnny" 15 25
"The Kangaroo" 25 23
"Don'cha Hear Them Bells" 13 28
1954 "I Really Don't Want To Know" 11 33
"South" 18
"I'm a Fool To Care" 6 13
"Auctioneer" 28
"Whither Thou Goest" 10 12
"Mandolino" 19 22
1955 "Song in Blue" 17
"Someday Sweetheart" 39
"No Letter Today" 27
"Hummingbird" 7 6
"Amukiriki" 38 24
"Magic Melody" 96 43
1956 "Texas Lady" 91 47
"Cimarron (Roll On)" 48
"Moritat" 49
"Nuevo Laredo" 91
1957 "Cinco Robles" 35 24
1958 "Put a Ring on My Finger" 32 43
"Jealous Heart" 71
1961 "Jura" 37 81
"It's Been a Long Long Time" 105

Albums

  • Feedback (1944) – compilation
  • Les Paul Trio (1946) – compilation
  • Hawaiian Paradise (1949)
  • The New Sound (1950)
  • Les Paul's New Sound, Volume 2 (1951)
  • Bye Bye Blues! (1952)
  • Gallopin' Guitars (1952) – compilation
  • The Hit Makers! (1953)
  • Les and Mary (1955)
  • Time to Dream (1957)
  • Lover's Luau (1959)
  • The Hits of Les and Mary (1960) – compilation
  • Bouquet of Roses (1962)
  • Warm and Wonderful (1962)
  • Swingin' South (1963)
  • Fabulous Les Paul and Mary Ford (1965)
  • Les Paul Now! (1968)
  • Guitar Tapestry
  • Lover
  • The Guitar Artistry of Les Paul (1971)
  • The World is Still Waiting for the Sunrise (1974) – compilation
  • The Best of Les Paul with Mary Ford (1974) – compilation
  • Chester and Lester (1976) – with Chet Atkins
  • Guitar Monsters (1978) – with Chet Atkins
  • Les Paul and Mary Ford (1978) – compilation
  • Multi Trackin' (1979)
  • All-Time Greatest Hits (1983) – compilation
  • The Very Best of Les Paul with Mary Ford
  • Famille Nombreuse (1992) – compilation
  • The World Is Waiting (1992) – compilation
  • The Best of the Capitol Masters: Selections from "The Legend and the Legacy" Box Set (1992) – compilation
  • All-Time Greatest Hits (1992) – compilation
  • Their All-Time Greatest Hits (1995) – compilation
  • Les Paul: The Legend and the Legacy (1996)
  • 16 Most Requested Songs (1996) – compilation
  • The Complete Decca Trios – Plus (1936–1947) (1997) – compilation
  • California Melodies (2003)
  • Les Paul – The Legendary Fred Waring Broadcasts (2004)
  • Les Paul & Friends: American Made World Played (2005)
  • Les Paul and Friends: A Tribute to a Legend (2008)

Singles

  • "It's Been a Long, Long Time"—Bing Crosby with Les Paul & His Trio (1945), #1 on Billboard Pop singles chart, 1 week, December 8
  • "Rumors Are Flying"—The Andrews Sisters with Les Paul and Vic Schoen & His Orchestra (1946)
  • "This Can't Be Love"//"Up And At 'Em"—The Les Paul Trio (1946), V-Disc 664A
  • "Guitar Boogie" (1947)
  • "Lover (When You're Near Me)" (1948)
  • "Brazil" (1948)
  • "What Is This Thing Called Love?" (1948)
  • "Suspicion"—as Rhubarb Red with Fos Carling (1948)
  • "Nola" (1950)
  • "Goofus" (1950)
  • "Dry My Tears"/"Cryin'" (1950)
  • "Little Rock Getaway" (1950/1951)
  • "Tennessee Waltz"—Les Paul & Mary Ford (1950/1951), #1, Cashbox
  • "Mockin' Bird Hill"—Les Paul & Mary Ford (1951), #1, Cashbox
  • "How High The Moon"—Les Paul & Mary Ford (1951), #1, Billboard Pop singles chart, 9 weeks, April 21 – June 16; #1, Cashbox, 2 weeks; #2, R&B chart
  • "I Wish I Had Never Seen Sunshine"—Les Paul & Mary Ford (1951)
  • "The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise"—Les Paul & Mary Ford (1951), #2, Billboard; #3, Cashbox
  • "Just One More Chance"—Les Paul & Mary Ford (1951)
  • "Jazz Me Blues" (1951)
  • "Josephine" (1951)
  • "Whispering" (1951)
  • "Jingle Bells" (1951)
  • "Tiger Rag"—Les Paul & Mary Ford (1952), #2, Billboard; #8, Cashbox
  • "I'm Confessin' (That I Love You)"—Les Paul & Mary Ford (1952)
  • "Carioca" (1952)
  • "In the Good Old Summertime"—Les Paul & Mary Ford (1952)
  • "Smoke Rings"—Les Paul & Mary Ford (1952)
  • "Meet Mister Callaghan" (1952), #5, Billboard
  • "Take Me in Your Arms and Hold Me"—Les Paul & Mary Ford (1952)
  • "Lady of Spain" (1952)
  • "My Baby's Coming Home"—Les Paul & Mary Ford (1952)
  • "Bye Bye Blues"—Les Paul & Mary Ford (1953)
  • "I'm Sitting on Top of the World"—Les Paul & Mary Ford (1953)
  • "Sleep" (Fred Waring's theme song) (1953)
  • "Vaya Con Dios"—Les Paul & Mary Ford (1953), #1, Billboard Pop singles chart, 11 weeks, August 8 – October 3, November 7–14; #1, Cashbox, 5 weeks
  • "Johnny (Is The Boy for Me)"—Les Paul & Mary Ford (1953), #15, Billboard; #25, Cashbox
  • "Don'cha Hear Them Bells"—Les Paul & Mary Ford (1953), #13, Billboard; #28, Cashbox
  • "The Kangaroo" (1953), #25, Billboard; #23, Cashbox
  • "I Really Don't Want To Know"—Les Paul & Mary Ford (1954)
  • "I'm A Fool To Care"—Les Paul & Mary Ford (1954)
  • "Whither Thou Goest"—Les Paul & Mary Ford (1954)
  • "Mandolino"—Les Paul & Mary Ford (1954), #19, Billboard
  • "Song in Blue"—Les Paul & Mary Ford (1954), #17, Cashbox
  • "Hummingbird"—Les Paul & Mary Ford (1955)
  • "Amukiriki (The Lord Willing)"—Les Paul & Mary Ford (1955)
  • "Magic Melody"—Les Paul & Mary Ford (1955)
  • "Texas Lady"—Les Paul & Mary Ford (1956)
  • "Moritat" (Theme from "Three Penny Opera") (1956)
  • "Nuevo Laredo"—Les Paul & Mary Ford (1956)
  • "Cinco Robles (Five Oaks)"—Les Paul & Mary Ford (1957)
  • "Put a Ring on My Finger"—Les Paul & Mary Ford (1958)
  • "All I Need Is You"—Les Paul & Mary Ford (1959)
  • "Jura (I Swear I Love You)"—Les Paul & Mary Ford (1961)
  • "Love Sneakin' Up on You"—Les Paul, Joss Stone & Sting (2005)

Compositions

Paul was also a prolific composer. Some of the songs he wrote were "Song in Blue", "Cryin'", "Hip-Billy Boogie", "Suspicion", "Mandolino", "Magic Melody", "Don'cha Hear Them Bells", "The Kangaroo", "Big-Eyed Gal", "Deep in the Blues", "All I Need is You", "Take a Warning", "Mammy's Boogie", "Up And At 'Em", "Pacific Breeze", "Golden Sands", "Hawaiian Charms", "Mountain Railroad", "Move Along, Baby (Don't Waste My Time)", "Dry My Tears", "I Don't Want You No More", "Doing the Town", "Les' Blues",[90] "No Strings Attached", "Subterfuge", "Lament For Strings", "Five Alarm Fire", "You Can't Be Fit as a Fiddle (When You're Tight as a Drum)", and "Walkin' and Whistlin' Blues".

See also

References

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Bibliography

  • Garrett, Charles, ed. "Paul Les [Polfuss, Lester Williams]" The Grove Dictionary of American Music, 2nd edition. Oxford University Press. 2006. Print.

External links

Ace Frehley

Paul Daniel "Ace" Frehley (; born April 27, 1951) is an American musician and songwriter best known as the original lead guitarist, occasional lead vocalist and co-founding member of the rock band Kiss. He invented the persona of The Spaceman (a.k.a. Space Ace) and played with the group from its inception in 1973 until his departure in 1982. After leaving Kiss, Frehley embarked on a solo career, which was put on hold when he rejoined Kiss in 1996 for a highly successful reunion tour.

Frehley's second tenure with Kiss lasted until 2002, when he left at the conclusion of what was originally purported to be the band's Farewell Tour. His most recent solo album, Spaceman, was released on October 19, 2018. Guitar World magazine ranked him as the 14th Greatest Metal Guitarist of All Time. Outside Kiss, Frehley had commercial success, with his first solo album going platinum. His first album with his "Frehley's Comet" band was also a big seller. Frehley is also known for the use of many "special effects" guitars, including a Gibson Les Paul guitar that emits smoke from the neck humbucker pickup and produces spinning pyrotechnics, and a custom Les Paul that emits light based on song tempo.

Alex Lifeson

Alexandar Zivojinovich, (born 27 August 1953), better known by his stage name Alex Lifeson, is a Canadian musician, singer, songwriter, and record producer, best known as the guitarist of the progressive rock band Rush. In 1968, Lifeson co-founded the band that would become Rush, with drummer John Rutsey and bassist and singer Jeff Jones. Jones was replaced by Geddy Lee a month later, and Rutsey was replaced by Neil Peart in 1974.

With Rush, Lifeson plays electric and acoustic guitars, as well as other string instruments such as mandola, mandolin, and bouzouki. He also performs backing vocals in live performances, and occasionally plays keyboards and bass pedal synthesizers. Like the other members of Rush, Lifeson performs real-time on-stage triggering of sampled instruments, concurrently with his guitar playing.The bulk of Lifeson's work in music has been with Rush, although Lifeson has contributed to a body of work outside the band as well. Aside from music, Lifeson is part-owner of The Orbit Room, a bar and restaurant in Toronto, a painter and a licensed aircraft pilot.Along with his bandmates Geddy Lee and Neil Peart, Lifeson was made an Officer of the Order of Canada on 9 May 1996. The trio was the first rock band to be so honoured, as a group. In 2013, he was inducted with Rush into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.Lifeson was ranked 98th on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time, and third (after Eddie Van Halen and Brian May) in a Guitar World readers poll also listing the 100 greatest guitarists.

Bye Bye Blues (song)

"Bye Bye Blues" is a popular and jazz standard written by Fred Hamm, Dave Bennett, Bert Lown, and Chauncey Gray and published in 1925.

Electric guitar

An electric guitar is a guitar that uses one or more pickups to convert the vibration of its strings into electrical signals. The vibration occurs when a guitar player strums, plucks, fingerpicks, slaps or taps the strings. The pickup generally uses electromagnetic induction to create this signal, which being relatively weak is fed into a guitar amplifier before being sent to the speaker(s), which converts it into audible sound.

The electric signal can be electronically altered to change the timbre of the sound. Often, the signal is modified using effects such as reverb, distortion and "overdrive"; the latter is considered to be a key element of electric blues guitar music and rock guitar playing.

Invented in 1931, the electric guitar was adopted by jazz guitar players, who wanted to play single-note guitar solos in large big band ensembles. Early proponents of the electric guitar on record include Les Paul, Lonnie Johnson, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, T-Bone Walker, and Charlie Christian. During the 1950s and 1960s, the electric guitar became the most important instrument in popular music. It has evolved into an instrument that is capable of a multitude of sounds and styles in genres ranging from pop and rock to country music, blues and jazz. It served as a major component in the development of electric blues, rock and roll, rock music, heavy metal music and many other genres of music.

Electric guitar design and construction varies greatly in the shape of the body and the configuration of the neck, bridge, and pickups. Guitars may have a fixed bridge or a spring-loaded hinged bridge, which lets players "bend" the pitch of notes or chords up or down, or perform vibrato effects. The sound of an electric guitar can be modified by new playing techniques such as string bending, tapping, and hammering-on, using audio feedback, or slide guitar playing.

There are several types of electric guitar, including: the solid-body guitar; various types of hollow-body guitars; the six-string guitar (the most common type), which is usually tuned E, B, G, D, A, E, from highest to lowest strings; the seven-string guitar, which typically adds a low B string below the low E; and the twelve-string guitar, which has six pairs of strings.

In pop and rock music, the electric guitar is often used in two roles: as a rhythm guitar, which plays the chord sequences or progressions, and riffs, and sets the beat (as part of a rhythm section); and as a lead guitar, which provides instrumental melody lines, melodic instrumental fill passages, and solos. In a small group, such as a power trio, one guitarist switches between both roles. In large rock and metal bands, there is often a rhythm guitarist and a lead guitarist.

Epiphone

Epiphone is an American musical instrument manufacturer founded in 1873 by Anastasios Stathopoulos, currently based in Nashville, Tennessee. In 1957 Epiphone, Inc., of New York City was purchased by Chicago Musical Instrument Co. (CMI, the same company that bought Gibson in 1944) and given the name Epiphone, Inc. of Kalamazoo, Michigan. CMI took great measures to keep the Gibson and Epiphone identities separate and housed the two companies in different buildings each with its own separate management team. Epiphone was Gibson's main rival in the archtop market prior to 1957. Their professional archtops, including the Emperor, Deluxe, Broadway and Triumph, rivaled those of Gibson. Aside from guitars, Epiphone also made double basses, banjos, and other string instruments. However, the company's weakness in the aftermath of World War II and death of Epaminondas Stathopoulos in 1943 allowed Gibson's parent, CMI, to purchase it.The name "Epiphone" is a combination of proprietor Epaminondas Stathopoulos' (Επαμεινώνδας Σταθόπουλος) nickname "Epi" and "phone" (from Greek phon- (φωνή), "voice").

Gibson

Gibson Brands, Inc. (formerly Gibson Guitar Corporation) is an American manufacturer of guitars, other musical instruments, and consumer and professional electronics from Kalamazoo, Michigan and now based in Nashville, Tennessee. The company was formerly known as Gibson Guitar Corporation and renamed Gibson Brands, Inc. on June 11, 2013.Orville Gibson founded the company in 1902 as the "Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Mfg. Co. Ltd." in Kalamazoo, Michigan, to make mandolin-family instruments. Gibson invented archtop guitars by constructing the same type of carved, arched tops used on violins. By the 1930s, the company was also making flattop acoustic guitars, as well as one of the first commercially available hollow-body electric guitars, used and popularized by Charlie Christian. In 1944, Gibson was bought by Chicago Musical Instruments (CMI), which was acquired in 1969 by Panama-based conglomerate Ecuadorian Company Limited (ECL), that changed its name in the same year to Norlin Corporation. Gibson was owned by Norlin Corporation from 1969 to 1986. In 1986, the company was acquired by a group led by Henry Juszkiewicz and David H. Berryman.

Gibson sells guitars under a variety of brand names and builds one of the world's most iconic guitars, the Gibson Les Paul. Gibson was at the forefront of innovation in acoustic guitars, especially in the big band era of the 1930s; the Gibson Super 400 was widely imitated. In 1952, Gibson introduced its first solid-body electric guitar, the Les Paul, which became its most popular guitar to date— designed by a team led by Ted McCarty.

In addition to guitars, Gibson offers consumer electronics through its subsidiaries Onkyo Corporation , Cerwin Vega, and Stanton, as well as professional audio equipment from KRK Systems, pianos from their wholly owned subsidiary Baldwin Piano, and music software from Cakewalk.

On May 1, 2018, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and announced a restructuring deal to return to profitability by closing down unprofitable consumer electronics divisions such as Gibson Innovations.

Gibson Les Paul

The Gibson Les Paul is a solid body electric guitar that was first sold by the Gibson Guitar Corporation in 1952. The Les Paul was designed by Gibson president Ted McCarty, factory manager John Huis and their team, with some input from, and endorsement by, guitarist Les Paul. Its design typically comprises a solid mahogany body with a carved maple top and a single cutaway, a mahogany set-in neck with a rosewood fretboard, two pickups with independent volume and tone controls, and a stoptail bridge, although variants exist.

The Les Paul was originally offered with a gold finish and two P-90 pickups. In 1957, humbucking pickups were added, along with sunburst finishes in 1958. The sunburst 1958–1960 Les Paul – today one of the best-known electric guitar types in the world – was considered a failure, with low production and sales. For 1961, the Les Paul was redesigned into what is now known as the Gibson SG. The original single-cutaway, carved top bodystyle was re-introduced in 1968. The Les Paul has been produced in many versions and editions since. Along with Fender's Telecaster and Stratocaster, it was one of the first mass-produced electric solid-body guitars. Due to their versatility, Les Paul electric guitars have been used in a wide range of music genres, including rock, country, pop, soul, rhythm and blues, blues, jazz, reggae, punk, and heavy metal.

Gibson Les Paul Custom

The Gibson Les Paul Custom is a higher end variation of the Gibson Les Paul guitar. It was developed in 1953 after Gibson had introduced the Les Paul model in 1952.

Gibson Les Paul Junior

The Gibson Les Paul Jr. is a solid-body electric guitar introduced in 1954 as an affordable, entry-level Les Paul. It was first released with a single-cutaway body style; models with a double-cutaway body style were later introduced in 1958. The Jr. continued through the first three years of the Les Paul/SG body redesign. It was discontinued in 1963.

|date=April 2016|reason=singlecut LP Jr. was re-issued in 1986–1992 and 2001-2002 (see Bluebook on References). However, SG-shaped Les Paul Junior seems not re-issued (merely '62 Custom and SG Les Paul Standard were reissued. see Bluebook on Further reading).}}

Gibson Les Paul bass

The Gibson Les Paul bass is a bass guitar first manufactured by Gibson in 1969, just after the relaunch of the Les Paul guitar in 1968.

Gibson SG

The Gibson SG is a solid-body electric guitar model that was introduced in 1961 (as the Gibson Les Paul SG) by Gibson, and remains in production today with many variations on the initial design available. The SG Standard is Gibson's best-selling model of all time.

Guitar Monsters

Guitar Monsters is an album by Chet Atkins and Les Paul, released in 1978. It is their second collaboration, after their Grammy Award-winning release Chester & Lester.

At the Grammy Awards of 1978, Guitar Monsters was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Performance.

Instruments played by the Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones, an English rock band, have been active since 1962. Originally a counterpoint to The Beatles, the group took influences from the Blues, rock'n'roll and R&B. Most of their recordings feature a core of drums, bass, two guitars and a lead vocal, though there have been numerous variations on this in the studio.

Jimmy Page

James Patrick Page (born 9 January 1944) is an English musician, songwriter, and record producer who achieved international success as the guitarist and founder of the rock band Led Zeppelin.

Page began his career as a studio session musician in London and, by the mid-1960s, alongside Big Jim Sullivan, was one of the most sought-after session guitarists in Britain. He was a member of the Yardbirds from 1966 to 1968. In late 1968, he founded Led Zeppelin.

Page is widely considered to be one of the greatest and most influential guitarists of all time. Rolling Stone magazine has described Page as "the pontiff of power riffing" and ranked him number three in their list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time", behind Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. In 2010, he was ranked number two in Gibson's list of "Top 50 Guitarists of All Time" and, in 2007, number four on Classic Rock's "100 Wildest Guitar Heroes". He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice; once as a member of the Yardbirds (1992) and once as a member of Led Zeppelin (1995).

List of Gibson players

This is an alphabetized list of musicians who have made notable use of Gibson Guitar models in live performances or studio recordings. Because of the great popularity of these models, musicians are listed here only if their use of these instruments was especially significant—that is, if:

they are musicians with long careers who have a history of faithful Gibson use.

the particular instrument they used was unique or of historical importance.

their use of the Gibson model contributed significantly to the popularization of that particular instrument.

Mary Ford

Mary Ford (born Iris Colleen Summers; July 7, 1924 – September 30, 1977) was an American vocalist and guitarist, comprising half of the husband-and-wife musical team Les Paul and Mary Ford. Between 1950 and 1954, the couple had 16 top-ten hits, including "How High the Moon" and "Vaya con Dios", which were number one hits on the Billboard charts. In 1951 alone they sold six million records. With Paul, Ford became one of the early practitioners of multi-tracking.

Rush equipment

The musical equipment used by the members of Rush have changed many times over the years. The following is a catalog of the gear they have used or are currently using.

Slash (musician)

Saul Hudson (born 23 July 1965), better known by his stage name Slash, is a British–American musician and songwriter. He is the lead guitarist of the American hard rock band Guns N' Roses, with whom he achieved worldwide success in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Slash has received critical acclaim and is considered one of the greatest guitarists in rock history.

In 1993, Slash formed the side project Slash's Snakepit; three years later he left Guns N' Roses in 1996 and co-founded the supergroup Velvet Revolver, which re-established him as a mainstream performer in the mid to late 2000s. Slash has released four solo albums: Slash (2010), featuring an array of guest musicians, and Apocalyptic Love (2012), World on Fire (2014) and Living the Dream (2018) recorded with his band, Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators. He returned to Guns N' Roses in 2016.

Time magazine named him runner-up on their list of "The 10 Best Electric Guitar Players" in 2009, while Rolling Stone placed him at number 65 on their list of "The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" in 2011. Guitar World ranked his guitar solo in "November Rain" number 6 on their list of "The 100 Greatest Guitar Solos" in 2008, and Total Guitar placed his riff in "Sweet Child o' Mine" at number 1 on their list of "The 100 Greatest Riffs" in 2004. In 2010, Gibson Guitar Corporation ranked Slash as number 34 on their "Top 50 Guitarists of All Time", while their readers landed him number 9 on Gibson's "Top 25 Guitarists of All Time". In 2012, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Guns N' Roses' classic lineup.

Vaya con Dios (song)

"Vaya con Dios (May God Be With You)" ([ˈba.ʝa kon djos], literally "Go with God", idiomatically "Oh, my God!") is a popular song written by Larry Russell, Inez James, and Buddy Pepper, and first recorded by Anita O'Day in December 1952. Les Paul and Mary Ford had a No. 1 recording of the song in 1953. Members of the Western Writers of America chose it as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time.

Awards for Les Paul
Special awards
Ceremony year
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