Les Paul invented the Les Paul Gibson guitar and multi-track recording
Les Paul was a great musician and enjoyed over 30 hit successes from 1945 to 1961. He often recorded with his wife Mary Ford as vocalist. Their song “How High the Moon” is still revered as one of the great recordings of all time.
In the clip from the TV show Les Paul is demonstrating the multi-track recording technique he invented. Today we take multi-track recordings for granted.
Les Paul is credited with creating and popularizing the technique with songs that could not be replicated otherwise. He also invented delay, phasing, tape delay and over-dubbing.
In the video, he is playing a Les Paul Gibson guitar, the guitar he created with Gibson engineers. It became, along with the Fender Stratocaster, the basis of rock and roll guitar. When he first designed it, it looked like a sculpted 4 x 4 since he thought the shape and wings would be irrelevant to the sound.
Guitarists swear the the shape and weight of the Les Paul give each model a distinctive sound along with the humbucker pickup he helped develop. Since the originals were solid wood, most aging rock guitarists like to play lighter models to save their arms and shoulders.
Most guitarists own at least one if not several Les Pauls, each with their own distinctive look, feel and sound.
Les Paul invented or introduced so many of the techniques of modern music and recording it’s unlikely we would have the same music without his innovations.
He divorced Mary Ford his wife in the mid-60′s, continued to record and play in public until very recently. His last gig was a regular Monday night session at the Iridium Jazz Club in New York.
In his late 80′s he was asked what was the secret to his success as a musician. With characteristic style, he replied “I play what the people want to hear, not what I like.”
Signing off, here’s Les Paul at 76 years old playing Somewhere over the Rainbow.
For more on his life see Wikipedia and the Gibson tribute