Thursday, August 13, 2009

Les Paul, 1915-2009

Whether you knew Les Paul's music or not, you knew his name. While his style leaned more toward jazz, country and blues, Paul left an indelible mark on the rock world. In fact, it's not too far-fetched to say that had Paul not created his most famous invention, rock and metal never would have existed. After all, if you've ever tried to play a thrash riff on an acoustic guitar, you know it won't really work.

It started in the late 1930s with his invention of "The Log," about the simplest "guitar" you could imagine -- a piece of four-by-four lumber strung up and electrified. Over the years, the design thankfully evolved into the Les Paul that has become such an iconic part of rock, and indeed all musical lore. Gibson began producing the guitars in the 1950s, and they've become the primary ax of some of the best players in the world in all genres -- from jazz to death metal. And it's the template that gave birth to all modern electric guitars.

But his impact on the world of music doesn't stop there. Les Paul was also a pioneer in multi-track recording, a commonplace practice today that was first introduced on one of his recordings from 1948.

You may not own any Les Paul recordings. You may not appreciate his style as a player. You may not even like the guitar that bears his name. But if you enjoy any kind of modern music, you owe him a debt of gratitude.

While the video below is a little off-topic for the usual content of this site, take a minute to honor and appreciate two undisputed masters of the guitar, and, perhaps, find a new appreciation for the man whose name is synonymous with the world's most recognizable guitar.

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