Musicians playing Les Paul guitars
Shown from left: (facing camera, with cane) Roger Daltrey (as Tommy Walker), (on guitars in aisle) John Entwistle, Eric Clapton (as The Preacher), Pete Townshend
from the film ‘Tommy’ 1975
* GUITAR LEGEND LES PAUL DEAD AT 94
Guitar legend and inventor LES PAUL has died after a battle with pneumonia at the age of 94.
The music icon passed away with his family and friends by his bedside at White Plains Hospital in New York on Thursday (13Aug09) after suffering complications from the illness.
Born Lester William Polfuss in Waukesha, Wisconsin, the star rose to fame in the 1930s as a jazz guitarist.
After a brief stint with The Les Paul Trio, formed in New York with pals Jim Atkins and bassist Ernie Newton in 1938, Paul moved to Hollywood where he landed his big break playing alongside Nat King Cole as a last minute stand-in for Oscar Moore.
The 1944 performance in the inaugural Jazz at the Philharmonic concert in Los Angeles led Paul to appear on Bing Crosby’s radio show, a partnership that would later produce a number of hit records, including 1945 song It’s Been A Long, Long Time.
Paul also scored a string of chart successes with his wife Mary Ford, whom he was married to for 13 years until 1962, such as How High the Moon, Nola, Lover and Vaya Con Dios, which became number one records for the duo in the U.S. pop charts.
But Paul is perhaps best known for being a pioneer in the development of the electric guitar – building The Log, one of the first solid-body axes, in 1939.
He landed a deal with the Gibson Guitar Corporation in the early 1950s to produce the Les Paul model, which has since become the trademark instrument for artists like Jimmy Page, The Who’s Pete Townshend and jazz great Al DiMeola.
He was also noted for his innovations in overdubbing, delay effects and multitrack recording.
During his lengthy career, Paul received a host of accolades including a Grammy Trustees Award in 1983 in honour of his lifetime achievements.
He was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame alongside Ford in 1978, and later, in 1988, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by Jeff Beck. (MT/WNWA/IG)
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