Musician and inventor Les Paul, creator of the solid-body electric guitar and a giant in the pantheon of rock and roll, died yesterday at the age of 94. Musicians of all generations praise Les Paul, whose name and mark of innovation on a Gibson guitar will remain a coveted American icon.
He invented multi-track recording, overdubbing, and a range of guitar effects, like reverb, yet it was his innovative guitar playing style, included trills, chording sequences, and fretting techniques that also set him apart from his contemporaries and inspired many guitarists of the present day. “I only invented things because I couldn’t find them in a store.”
He used to say he could make anyone in the audience cry using only a few notes, and then he’d begin playing a slow, halting, lilting version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow.
Watch this short documentary by Gibson Guitars honoring the man from Waukesha, Wisconsin (pronounced Wah-ke-shaw) on his 90th birthday. (If you only have time for 60 seconds play the great Coors commercial at the bottom of the page, where senior citizen Les Paul shows the young buck how it’s done.) Photo, above, from the Gibson guitars documentary.