While this blog page will normally be about matters of the heart, I’m simply moved to write about something more general… the passing of a more or less unknown legend. Today Les Paul died. He was 94. So many of you may be saying, ‘So what?’ As some of you may already know, my first two loves were music and photography. From an early age, music moved me in ways that so many just never seemed to understand. Rock and roll hit really big with the appearance of the Beatles and from there life has never been the same. The electric guitar, in fact, the Gibson Les Paul electric guitar, along with the Marshall amplifier, were the sound of rock and roll. Many famous guitarists played the Gibson Les Paul… the guitar that defined an entire style of music. Yet, while that would be more than enough for most, Les also invented the modern techniques that are still used to this day to record music… period. Les was responsible to the invention of the multitrack tape machine as well. It had been centuries since ONE MAN had affected the world in such an all-encompassing manner. And now he’s finally passed… but his spirit will unknowingly live on in and thru every song we hear that was recorded.
In high school I had the pleasure of seeing Les perform… not in LA, Chicago, or New York, but in Portland, Oregon. With two other musicians on stage, a bass player and a drummer, Les lit up the evening and blew everyone away. Just out of retirement, and having not played guitar for 10 years, Les was amazing as he ever was. The biggest thrill for me was being able to talk with him on stage for what seemed like half an hour afterward. He influenced my desire to work in the recording industry.
Les will be missed by all who knew him. If you’d like to learn more about him and really understand his impact on your world, pick up the DVD entitled ‘Chasing Sound’. It was filmed when he was a spry 91 and still playing Monday evenings at the Iridium Club in Manhattan.
If you think the music died with Buddy Holly’s passing, then it’s finally truly gone today. Long live Les… you will be sorely missed.