If you don’t know, Les Paul was the inventor of the electric guitar, one which Gibson would put out with his name on it. He would also change the way we recorded music. Les simply changed the course of music with electric guitars and multitrack recording.
As an inventor, Paul also helped bring about the rise of rock & roll with multitrack recording, which enables artists to record different instruments at different times, sing harmony with themselves, and then carefully balance the tracks in the finished recording. The use of electric guitar gained popularity in the mid-to-late 1940s, and then exploded with the advent of rock in the mid-’50s.
I never had a Les Paul until 2008 when I saved my money to get my first. Once I got the guitar and held it in my hands, I knew right then why everyone loved these guitars. I am not a great player by any means, nor do I play in a band, but damn, that guitar made me sound so much better than I probably am.
A few years back I was at Pogo Studios mixing some tracks for an upcoming CD, and producer Mark Rubel had all these great instruments in his studio. One was a Gibson Les Paul Gold Top. I wanted to pick up and play it, but frankly, I was scared. This was an old classic, not like my brand spanking new one. I think this Gold Top was a 1968 – older than I was. If that wasn’t cool enough, Mark (the owner of the studio) showed me the guitar’s pick guard that was signed in black Sharpie by none other than LES PAUL!!!!
I certainly didn’t want to play it now in fear I would ding it, scratch it or god forbid, drop it. But Mark was the coolest; he urged me couple of times to “just pick it up and play. It’s just a guitar.” So I did. I strummed a few E, G, A, D, chords, and it was the greatest guitar I’ve ever held in my hands, and it wasn’t even plugged in. Obviously, it was a superior instrument, but the fact that is was actually signed by Les Paul himself put that guitar on a whole new level. I never wanted to put it down. Thank you, Mark, for giving me that opportunity. I would have regretted not playing that guitar for the rest of my life.
I’ve worked in the music industry in one form or another for more than half my life. The older I got and the deeper into the process of music I got, I learned that Les Paul was more than just a name on a guitar. He was a legend, an icon and downright genius. There will never ever be another like Les Paul, and that is perfectly fine with me. He played guitar until his final days, playing better into his 90s then I will ever play in my life.
So now I will pick up my Les Paul from across the room and play a few songs in honor of Les Paul and simply say thank you for everything he has done for the music industry.
Happy Birthday Les Paul
You are missed
Rest in Peace