On August 13 Les Paul, the man often credited as a major contributor to the rock and roll movement, died at the age of 95 in New York after an illness. And in the wake of his death, artists from B.B. King, Slash, and John Mayer have commented on the influence he has had on their music.
While there are those who will never fully understand the significance of Les Paul, the contributions he has made to the world of music will never be forgotten. Born in 1915, he was known to his family as Lester William Polsfuss, the son of a Jewish-Prussian family in Wisconsin. Although his parents divorced while he was young, music seemed to find a way into his life. The first instrument to catch his attention was the harmonica at the age of eight years old then later the guitar which he mastered within a short time.
It was in the area of music Les Paul found his calling not only as a musician but an inventor. Unhappy with the limits of acoustic guitars furnished during his time, he managed a way to enhance the sound in a variation of the guitar called, “The Log”. Although very simplistic in design, what Les Paul achieved was the early beginnings of the electric guitar. Yet despite other similar musical inventors around such as Adolph Rickenbacher, and Leo Fender whose rework on the guitar also are invaluable, it was Les Paul’s model of “The Log” that really created a solid body for the electric guitar.
In 1938 Les Paul brought together a group of other musicians and created The Les Paul Trio. This union seemed destined as it not only allowed Mr.Paul the opportunity to showcase his music; it also served as a way for other musicians to benefit from his talents. Through his years with the band, and other side projects, he was able to perform alongside the likes of Nat King Cole and Bing Crosby.
Then later on in his life, Les Paul struck gold again when his experiments in music production hit a high note as he began refining the process of recording songs. He applied what is called a multi-layer recording — a method that allowed him to record any or different instruments separately then places them all together in layers.
From the remodeled frame of an acoustic guitar to the innovations of recording a song, there is no doubt how much Les Paul loved music. It takes great passion mixed with genius to develop the kinds of methods and styles to an instrument the way he managed within a lifetime. And although many may not have known too much about Les Paul, the legacy of his work lives on in the music for generations who dare to rock out.