Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Music Entertainment

Guitar, Studio Wizard Les Paul Dies At 94 227

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the he-will-be-missed dept.
beeshman noted that Les Paul has died. Paul was quite the hardware hacker of his day, innovating with guitar hardware, and later multi track recording. The Gibson Les Paul is one of the single most iconic instruments associated with Rock 'n Roll, and was of course played by Pete Townshend. Someday I'm going to get me one.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Guitar, Studio Wizard Les Paul Dies At 94

Comments Filter:
  • Played by? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Stargoat (658863) <stargoat@gmail.com> on Thursday August 13, 2009 @01:23PM (#29054603) Journal
    Played by Pete Townshend? More like destroyed by.
    • Re:Played by? (Score:5, Informative)

      by lumpenprole (114780) <lumpenproleNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Thursday August 13, 2009 @01:36PM (#29054791) Homepage Journal
      Actually, he used to put his good les pauls on a stand behind the amp, pull out a cheap copy and smash the crap out of it. He wasn't totally stupid.
    • Re:Played by? (Score:5, Informative)

      by cayenne8 (626475) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @02:07PM (#29055213) Homepage Journal
      Geez, the obvious person to mention, who's name is synonymous with the Les Paul is Jimmy Page.

      Pete has played with the LP for a bit, but, has never been quite as associated with any one guitar like Jimmy Page.

      Page == Les Paul (and a telecaster in early days)

      Jimi Hendrix == Strat

      To me...I always picture Pete mostly with a Gibson SG during the 60's.

      • by hairyfeet (841228)
        I always think of Gary Rossington [wikipedia.org] from Lynyrd Skynyrd and that gorgeous 59 Les Paul that he always plays. While being a bass player I have always preferred Fenders (Gibson basses suck IMHO) you just had to appreciate that thick bluesy snarl that the Les Paul does so well.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by amicusNYCL (1538833)

        I'll add Slash to the list. Not that when I think of a Les Paul I think of Slash, but when I think of Slash I do think of his black LP. Zakk Wylde has a spot in there also.

    • Re:Played by? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Golias (176380) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @02:08PM (#29055227)

      Townsend also played/smashed a lot of Fender Stratocasters.

      If there's any rock artist closely associated with the Les Paul, it's Jimmy Page. He played the occasional Telecaster on some album tracks, but almost never played live with anything other than an LP.

      Which is kind of a silly thing to bring up when talking about the inventions of Les Paul anyway. His total contribution to that design consists of a tailpiece (which they ended up not using), and his signature. Everything else about the guitar was designed by other people.

      • by bhsurfer (539137)
        Jimmy Page had (probably still has) that old Danelectro guitar that he kept in a different (open) tuning for stuff like Kashmir, In My Time Of Dying, White Summer/Black Mountain Side, etc. I always get a kick out of the thought of him rocking out in front of tens of thousands of people on a 30 year old $50 guitar. Jerry Garcia's first electric guitar was a Danelectro too.

        Page is still the first person I think of as well when I think of a Les Paul guitar.
      • by linguizic (806996)
        I don't think I've seen Slash play anything but a Les Paul.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Abreu (173023)

          I don't think I've seen Slash play anything but a Les Paul.

          Right, with a notable exception: The screechy sound in "Since I don't have you" is Slash playing Gilby Clarke's Telecaster

  • by scribblej (195445) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @01:24PM (#29054629)

    Don't fret.

  • A true innovator (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SoupGuru (723634) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @01:26PM (#29054645)

    He left his mark upon the music world for sure. I'm sure our world would be a different place if he hadn't been inspired to monkey around with the status quo.

    • by mcgrew (92797) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @01:50PM (#29054991) Homepage Journal

      "The Log" [wikipedia.org]
      Paul was dissatisfied with the acoustic guitars that were sold in the mid 1930s and began experimenting with a few designs for an electric model on his own. Famously, he created "The Log," which was nothing more than a length of common 4" x 4" lumber with bridge, guitar neck, and pickup attached. For the sake of appearance, he attached the body of an Epiphone hollow-body guitar, sawn lengthwise with The Log in the middle. This solved his two main problems: feedback, as the acoustic body no longer resonated with the amplified sound, and sustain, as the energy of the strings was not dissipated in generating sound through the guitar body.

      Les Paul actually invented the first true electric guitar. All the ones before it were simply acoustic guitars with mocrophones. If it weren't for Les Paul, rock and roll might possibly have never come about.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by rabbit78 (822735)
        I always thought of Leo Fender as the true innovator of the electric guitar. AFAIR, Les Paul was even opposed to the idea of solid body guitars, and only did the classic Les Paul after seeing Leo Fender's huge success with Telecaster et. al.
      • Re:A true innovator (Score:4, Informative)

        by rubycodez (864176) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @02:51PM (#29055791)

        actually,George Beauchamp made solid aluminum body electric guitar in 1931 and sold them through the company Ropatin (we now know as Rickenbacker), intended for Hawaiian music that was popular during the 30s. Popularly called a "frying pan" because of round body.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by teamhasnoi (554944)
          You're all wrong. Paul Bigsby invented the solid electric Spanish guitar (held like 'normal'). The Frying Pan was a lap steel. Les Paul actually had a Bigsby guitar before he came out with the Log. Loyd Loar of Vivi-tone did the first electric hollowbody. Read "The Bigsby Book", it just came out. I actually did a wee bit of work on photography for it, and know the guy who did quite a bit of research for it.

          There's a lot of misinformation about the early years of guitars as people like Bigsby didn't keep

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by BOUND4DOOM (987004)
      History Channel or maybe Biography Channel has a 2 hour special on Les Paul a couple years ago I watched with amazement and how interesting the guy was. They told a lot of funny stories about him as well. Like one of the houses he owned before he had a studio he would wander around the house looking for the best acoustic place to play for his enjoyment. They also showed a lot of his inventions that I have used but never knew he invented. I would imagine this show would be airing again soon. If you get a cha
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by initdeep (1073290)

        it was pbs and it was part of "The Masters" series.
        you can get it on netflix under the name "Les Paul: Chasing Sound"

        it's even available for Instant Watch

    • Les Paul, as well as Robert Moog, Leon Theremin, and others created the tools that made 20th Century music a wonderfully alien thing, producing sounds without precedent in the history of music. This always leads me to wonder, though: Where will the next revolutionary sound come from? We can simulate nearly anything in software now, so what does that mean for the future of new instruments?

      Actually, maybe we're already well into the world of the next sonic revolutionary: Andy Hildebrand, inventor of Auto-Tune

  • by Fritz T. Coyote (1087965) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @01:30PM (#29054703) Homepage
    He will be missed. Amazing how long he kept playing, and how many people he influenced.
  • by Sturm (914) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @01:31PM (#29054721) Journal

    What a loss. I love everything Chet Atkins and Les Paul did together. I loved hearing Chet and Les banter back and forth before doing a song. Their music was so technical but because of their great skill it ended up sounding effortless (the trademark of truly great musicians).

    Most people will obviously associate Les Paul with a particular guitar, and although that particular piece of hardware will be his legacy, his musical skills will be greatly missed. His style was so unique and is almost impossible to emulate.

    Thank you for all your wonderful contributions to the musical world, Les. You will be greatly missed.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 13, 2009 @01:46PM (#29054927)

      Its not a loss. Its a great success! Look at all the stuff he got done before today! At 94 I'd say his lifes work was complete. And we still have all of his inventions. No need to miss him. Don't miss him, celebrate his work with the epic sustain of a Les Paul Standard.

    • by Critical Facilities (850111) * on Thursday August 13, 2009 @01:57PM (#29055067) Homepage
      I will absolutely second this. My dad is a huge Chet Atkins fan, and a fan of Les Paul as well. As a result, I grew up listening to them both. I got to see Chet play live several times, but never got to see Les. I heard all the old 10 inch (yes, I do mean 10 inch) Les and Mary records, and it was the first time I considered the significance of multi track recording.

      As a kid, my favorite story about Les Paul was the one briefly alluded to here [aarpmagazine.org]. Apparently, Les broke his arm badly (shattered would be a better description). So, he had the doctor set his arm in a bent position so that he could still play the guitar since it would never really be mobile again. That is a true guitar player.

      Thank you, Les, for everything. We will rock on in your honor.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mcgrew (92797)

        You can't always believe the doctors' prognosises. A guitarist friend of mine cut his left arm nearly completely off, and the doctors told him he'd never be able to play again. It seemed to me that although he didn't have complete use of his fingers, they still worked. I told him to play anyway, and the guitar playing was actually a good therapy. He's not the guitarist he was before going throgh the plate glass window, but he's not all that bad, either.

        Les Paul's accident and the story you linked are also r

        • A guitarist friend of mine cut his left arm nearly completely off, and the doctors told him he'd never be able to play again. ... I told him to play anyway, and the guitar playing was actually a good therapy. He's not the guitarist he was before going throgh the plate glass window, but he's not all that bad, either.

          And then there was Tony Iommi, a left-handed guitarist who lost the tips of some of his right-hand (fretting) fingers in an industrial accident at his day job. After trying unsuccessfully to pl

      • by initdeep (1073290)

        most of Les and Mary's 10" recordings were not multi track but they were overdubbed.

        there is a difference

        he did however invent both.

    • by mcgrew (92797) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @02:12PM (#29055283) Homepage Journal

      The electric guitar wasn't his only nerdy accomplishment. The wikipedia article lists a lot of firsts, including the first multitrack recording.

      • Didn't Les once say that if he has known what rock music would do with the electric guitar, he never would have invented it? My memory is a bit fuzzy, and that may have been one of the transistor trinity. Anybody know?
      • by Golias (176380)

        "Sheik of Araby" by Sydney Bichet is the first multitrack recording of the same artist. Les Paul was just the first major artist to do it with magnetic tape.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sidney_Bechet [wikipedia.org]

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mcgrew (92797)

          According to the wikipedia article [wikipedia.org], Les Paul was the first, and didn't use tape.

          Multitrack recording innovations
          In 1948, Capitol Records released a recording that had begun as an experiment in Paul's garage, entitled "Lover (When You're Near Me)", which featured Paul playing eight different parts on electric guitar, some of them recorded at half-speed, hence "double-fast" when played back at normal speed for the master. ("Brazil", similarly recorded, was the B-side.) This was the first time that multi-track

    • by djbckr (673156)
      Something to be noted (pun intended) is that the original design of the Les Paul guitar has been virtually unchanged since it started production. Sure, it's gone through incremental improvements over the years. I would say it's a testament to how ingenious Les Paul was.
    • Just in case you never saw it, here's Chet surprising Les in the middle of a song. Nice to see a look back at the times when musicians actually performed live.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ByGsHTlKmWk [youtube.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Hatta (162192) *

      I'd just like to point everyone to The Les Paul Show [archive.org], available for free download on archive.org. Early stuff, just him, Mary Ford, and a drummer, and lots of showing off with overdubbing. Pretty good quality for such an old recording too. Give it a listen, hear the master at work.

    • by initdeep (1073290)

      i associate Les Paul with multi track recording more than a single guitar.

      after all, without his multi track recording (and overdubbing before that) music wouldn't be what it is today.
      the beatles and beach boys wouldn't have been able to create their iconic albums, and people like Tom Dowd would have never been able to mix some of the arguably greatest recordings of all time.

    • What a loss. I love everything Chet Atkins and Les Paul did together. I loved hearing Chet and Les banter back and forth before doing a song. Their music was so technical but because of their great skill it ended up sounding effortless (the trademark of truly great musicians).

      Most people will obviously associate Les Paul with a particular guitar, and although that particular piece of hardware will be his legacy, his musical skills will be greatly missed. His style was so unique and is almost impossible to emulate.

      Thank you for all your wonderful contributions to the musical world, Les. You will be greatly missed.

      Very nicely said. Too many people seem to only know him for the guitar that bears his name and few have any knowledge of his music.

      I remember in my teen years, absorbing the culture of rock music, and when I came across the knowledge that Les Paul was the name of a guitarist, I had asked my musician friends if any of them had heard any of Les Paul's music. Invariably, I would be told that he was some "old-time" guy, some kind of country music that nobody listened to in that time and place. A few years

  • Pete Who? (Score:5, Informative)

    by MojoRilla (591502) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @01:35PM (#29054771)
    Pete Townsend did play a Les Paul, but only from 1972 to 1979. If you are looking for an iconic posterboy for the Gibson Les Paul, try Jimmy Page. Other notables include Slash, Joe Perry, and Ace Frehley. Here is a list [gibson.com] of of 15 iconic Les Paul players from Gibson.
    • by liquidsin (398151)

      randy rhoads, jimmy page and slash are all covered on that link and definitely what i would consider posterboys for the lp. i've always associated billy gibbons (zz top) with the les paul too; kinda surprised he wasn't on that list...

      back on topic, r.i.p. les - a true superman to guitarists everywhere, and a real nerd to boot. congrats on a life full of great achievements. as others have said, don't mourn his passing - celebrate it.

  • 'Guitarhero' (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fwice (841569) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @01:36PM (#29054781)

    Whoever tagged this article 'Guitarhero' was absolutely correct.

    The man's influence on music cannot be stated highly enough.

    Between the design (and implementation of the electric guitar) to multitrack recording to delay effects, he really was a renaissance man.

  • Ah well... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Stenchwarrior (1335051) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @01:38PM (#29054813)
    At least we still have Esteban [estebanmusic.com]
  • by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Thursday August 13, 2009 @01:39PM (#29054819) Homepage Journal
    Per Wayne Campbell:

    Oh yes, she will be mine

    Butchered by CmdTaco:

    Someday I'm going to get me one.

  • by ShadowBlasko (597519) <shadowblaskoNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday August 13, 2009 @01:39PM (#29054825) Homepage
    RIP Les Paul. You changed the world, one string at a time

    My Guitar Gently Weeps...
    • by mcgrew (92797)

      My Guitar Gently Weeps...

      "And the rosewood bitters help me through the night when I feel blue"

      (for non-guitarists: a guitar's fretboard is made of rosewood. I can't remember whose song the above line is from.)

      • Joe Walsh?
      • It can be rosewood.

        Other fretboard materials include maple (which Clapton uses), ebony (common with Gibson guitiars w/mahogany necks) and even graphite or carbon fiber (yuck).

        Pairing a guitar neck with a fretboard material can dramatically change the sound of the guitar.

        FREX, pure maple sounds quite different than maple/ebony or mahogany/ebony.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...had he not invented the electric guitar. Someone else may have done it but Les truly took it to the next level.

    It boggles the mind that this man's invention would have such an impact on the world. What would Woodstock have been without the electric guitar and Jimmy Hendrix's Star Spangled Banner.

    -R-

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by cayenne8 (626475)
      "What would Woodstock have been without the electric guitar and Jimmy Hendrix's Star Spangled Banner."

      Err....that was a Stratocaster that Jimi Hendrix played the Star Spangled Banner on...

      You might wanna go rent the movie..it is really good on DVD these days, restored, and with extra filmed content and performances not in the original movie.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Err....that was a Stratocaster that Jimi Hendrix played the Star Spangled Banner on...

        Right... and a Stratocaster is, in fact, an electric guitar the last time I checked.

  • Ah, nuts. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RevWaldo (1186281) * on Thursday August 13, 2009 @02:03PM (#29055155)
    Les Paul and his trio played (every?) Monday nights at the Iridium Jazz Club here in NYC. Every once in awhile I'd see the ad for it and think "I gotta check that out sometime. After all, he won't be around forever."

    Of course, I never did.
    • That was exactly my reaction when I first read this headline. Ever since I first moved here a decade ago, I'd been meaning to check him out at Iridium before it was too late, but stupidly never made the time. The same thing happened with Tommy Flanagan with his regular gigs in town.

      It's amazing to me that these musicians continue to perform live shows with as much passion as ever to the very end of their lives. I'll never forgive myself for missing out on this, their incredible life-long gift to the world.

  • by popeye44 (929152)
    No Les No More.
  • Would you say he dies every day, or once a week or once in a while?

    Seems to me he'd just die the one time like everyone else. Unless he's a fictional character. Hamlet dies at the end of the play, every time the play is performed.

  • I will play today (Score:2, Insightful)

    by maharb (1534501)

    It's a sad day for everyone who loves the electric guitar. I am going to play loud for him today!!

  • wow (Score:3, Insightful)

    by thatskinnyguy (1129515) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @04:19PM (#29056919)
    I may not have a Les Paul, but the guitar I do have has humbucking pickups and a tune-o-matic bridge (That Les Paul invented). I appreciate his contributions and his dedication to his craft. Now I'm going to go play for a bit.
  • by blind biker (1066130) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @08:39PM (#29060361) Journal

    ...but the Gibson Les Paul has never really been my kind. I did play on one, for a while, and it is nice but not my favorite el. guitar. The Fender Telecaster's simplicity and directness suits me much more.

    Rest in peace, Les Paul, and thank you for the music.

If a listener nods his head when you're explaining your program, wake him up.

Working...