A Phil Brodie Band Tribute PageHOME PAGE
AUGUST 13th 2009
So sadly this amazing man and
great musician, with such an adventurous, searching and inventive mind, Les Paul has passed away at the age of 94. With his loving family and friends at his bedside, he died from complications of pneumonia at White Plains Hospital in White Plains, New York.
Over 70 years of influencial music ~ A trooper until the very end
.. Rest In Peace ..

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June 9th 1915 ~ August 13th 2009
This page was started in
2004, with regular updates

Les Paul quote "There are a lot of great guitar players out there, but not many of them have what it takes to be truly great. You have to have rhythm, which you can't purchase in a store. You have to have an ear for music, which you can't buy. You have to have soul, which you can't buy. These are things that you're gifted with. Another is perseverance, and another is a sense of humor. You see, when you play with your hands, you have to think the whole audience is made of foreigners. You have to raise your sight, lower your sight, and find where your audience is. Then, of course, you get your standing ovation!"

Les Paul, playing on his 87th birthday.
June 2002 - Les Paul celebrated his 87th year by playing another of his great weekly shows at the Iridium club in New York.

Les Paul at 89 this year is still playing guitar, every week at the Iridium Club in Manhattan NYC, where he rouses the crowd with his quicksilver runs and clever arrangements, even though arthritis has robbed him of much of his dexterity. The secret, Paul says, is that his music is as much in his head as in his fingers. "If you have only two fingers [to work with], you have to think, how will you play that chord?" he says. "So you think of how to replace that chord with several notes, and it gives the illusion of sounding like a chord." Les Paul's magic has always had as much to do with his brilliant mind as his guitar-playing prowess.Les Paul in the middle with the Les Paul Trio backing Bing Crosby, early 40's.


· At 13, Paul was performing semi-professionally as a country-music guitarist.

· At the age of 17, he played with Rube Tronson's Texas Cowboys

· The first guitar Paul ever owned, a 1927 Sears Troubadour

· Les Paul's first Gibson guitar, a 1928 Gibson L-5

· 1938 - "The Plank," Les Paul's first attempt at creating a solid-body guitar, which is/was made from . . .a two-by-four piece of lumber with a door hinge as the bridge.

· The first Les Paul Electric Guitar, 1952

First instrument: Harmonica

First two records: both released in 1936, one was credited to Rhubarb Red, Les's hillbilly alter ego, and the other was as an accompanist for blues artist Georgia White.

Big break: With Fred Waring's Pennsylvanians. Paul had a regular spot during the big band's radio shows from 1938-1941. Incidentally, Waring was no slouch himself with appliances; he helped invent and market the Waring blender.

Played with among others: Waring, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Dick Haymes, the Andrews Sisters, Helen Forrest, Chet Atkins, Al Di Meola, Slash and many more.

A few hit songs: "It's Been a Long, Long Time" (with Crosby); "Brazil"; "Mockin' Bird Hill," "Vaya Con Dios" and "How High the Moon" (with Mary Ford)

Non-musical influences: Jack Benny, Groucho Marx, "all those great comedians. It wasn't just showmanship, but a whole way of handling your career."

His different names: Lester William Polsfuss, Rhubard Red, Red Hot Red, Les Paul,

Honors: 1978 - Les Paul and Mary Ford were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
1983 - Les received a Grammy Trustees Award for his lifetime achievements in . In
1988 - he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by Jeff Beck
1991 - the Mix Foundation established an annual award in his name; the Les Paul Award
2005 - he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for his development of the solid-body electric guitar.
2006 - Paul was inducted into the National Broadcasters Hall of Fame. He was named an honorary member of the Audio Engineering Society.
2008 - received the American Music Masters award through the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Quote: "I learned a long time ago that one note can go a long way if it's the right one, and it will probably whip the guy with 20 notes."

Les Paul

interview with Pop Matters

PM: Let's do a little history, for the readers who might not know much about you. You started off self-taught, right?
LP: Right. I started off playing harmonica. There was a ditch-digger playing harmonica outside our home when I was eight, and I stared him right out of his harmonica. I started playing that, and made it rock. But a harmonica wasn't enough. So I went to banjo and piano, and finally ended up with guitar.
PM: Who is the greatest guitar player you ever heard in your life?
LP: There have been a lot of great ones, but I think it would be Django Reinhardt and [Andres] Segovia.
PM: Who were the biggest influences on you as a young guitarist?
LP: Eddie Lang. He was the first one that I heard that really influenced me. My brother and I hitchhiked to Milwaukee, went to Orth's Music Store there, and asked the guy who was really great, and he played Eddie Lang for us. We listened to him over and over and over. That was how I learned; there were no teachers back then, only music stores. Waukesha didn't have anything like that. Now, another one to come along was Nick Lucas, and he was wonderful too. But Eddie Lang -- he was the boy.
PM: I want to just run down some of your inventions for some of our readers who might not know just what you've accomplished. You were the first to use multitracking on a pop recording.
LP: Right.
PM: Were you the first to use multitrack recording for any reason?
LP: If anyone else did, it wasn't an eight-track. I invented the eight-track recorder. So yeah, before that there was no multitracking, there was no stereo.
PM: And this was because of a recorder someone brought back after the war?
LP: Right. There was a mono tape machine that people brought back from Luxembourg that used what we called a "paper tape." This was Colonel [Dick] Ranger and Jack Mullins who brought this back and showed it to me. And I got Bing connected with it. So I was in the garage in L.A. and Bing pulled up in front and said "I've got something in the car for you." I didn't know what it was -- I thought it was a load of Kraft cheese. But it was this recorder. He says, "Have fun," and he turned around and left. I started playing around with it, and Mary was doing laundry and I came in yelling, "Mary, I got it! I got it! That stuff we've been trying to do on disc, I know how to do it on tape!" That was 1949, and it was the first sound-on-sound. Multitracking came later -- I just happened to pick eight for the number of tracks.
PM: You invented the first solid-body electric guitar.
LP: Yes.
PM: The first bass guitar.
LP: Yes.
PM: You invented the use of echo.
LP: Yes.
PM: Delay.
LP: Yes.
PM: Reverb.
LP: Yes.
PM: What am I leaving out?
LP: Phasing!
PM: [Laughs.] Sorry for laughing, but man, that's a lot of things you're responsible for.
LP: I laugh about that myself sometimes.
PM: Are you shocked when you think about all this stuff you invented?
LP: Sometimes, but nobody listens. Sometimes I'm listening to the radio and I hear something and I say, "Hey, honey! Did you hear that? I invented that!" But no one's listening. [Laughs.]
PM: I imagine that many guitar players have made the pilgrimage down to the club to try to play with the master. Is there anyone who can come close to sounding like you?
LP: There have been some pretty good attempts at it. The closest is Jeff Beck. He's as good as anybody.

Les Paul with BB King 2003.

One of the most important figures in the development of the electric guitar and studio recording techniques. Born Lester William Polfus in Wankesha, Wisconsin, USA. Les began playing guitar and other instruments while still a child. In the early 30s he broadcast on the radio and in 1936 was leading his own trio. In the late 30s and early 40s he worked in New York, where he was featured on Fred Waring's radio show. He made records accompanying singers such as Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters. Although his work was in the popular vein, with a strong country leaning, Les was highly adaptable and frequently sat in with jazz musicians. One of his favourites was Nat "King" Cole, whom he knew in Los Angeles, and the two men appeared together at a Jazz At The Philharmonic concert in 1944, on which Les played some especially fine blues. Les also hosted a 15-minute radio program, The Les Paul Show, on NBC in 1950, featuring his trio (himself, Ford, and rhythm player Eddie Stapleton) and his electronics, recorded from their home and with gentle humor between Les and Mary bridging musical selections, some of which had already been successful on records, some of which anticipated the couple's recordings, and many of which presented re-interpretations of such jazz and pop selections as "In the Mood," "Little Rock Getaway," "Brazil," and "Tiger Rag." Several recordings of these shows survive among old-time radio collectors today. The show also appeared on television a few years later with the same format, but excluding the trio and retitled The Les Paul & Mary Ford Show (aka Les Paul & Mary Ford At Home) with "Vaya Con Dios" as a theme song. Dissatisfied with the sound of the guitars he played, Les developed his own design for a solid-bodied instrument, which he had made at his own expense. Indeed, the company, Gibson, were so cool towards the concept that they insisted their name should not appear on the instruments they made for him. In later years, when it seemed that half the guitarists in the world were playing Les Paul-style Gibson guitars, the company's attitude was understandably a little different. Les's dissatisfaction with existing techniques extended beyond the instrument and into the recording studios. Eager to experiment with a multi-tracking concept, he built a primitive studio in his own home. He produced a succession of superb recordings on which he played multi-track guitar, among them "Lover", "Nola", "Brazil" and "Whispering". During the 50s Les continued his experimentation with other, similar recordings, while his wife, (the late) Mary Ford, sang multiple vocal lines. Other major record successes were "The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise", "How High The Moon", which reached number 1, and "Vaya Con Dios", another US number 1 hit. By the early 60s Paul had tired of the recording business and retired. He and Ford were divorced in 1963 and he spent his time inventing and helping to promote Gibson guitars. In the late 70s he returned to the studios for two successful albums of duets with Chet Atkins, but by the end of the decade he had retired again. A television documentary in 1980, The Wizard Of Wankesha, charted his life and revived interest in his career. In 1984 he made a comeback to performing and continued to make sporadic appearances throughout the rest of the decade. He was even performing at the guitar festival in Seville, Spain, in 1992. A remarkably gifted and far-sighted guitarist, Les's contribution to popular music must inevitably centre upon his pioneering work on multi-tracking and his creation of the solid-bodied guitar. It would be sad, however, if his efforts in these directions wholly concealed his considerable abilities as a performer.
Les Paul
In 2005, Les , the father of the solid-body electric guitar, released his first rock album.
At the gage of 90, he appears with Peter Frampton, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton and other guitar legends on the new CD, called Les Paul and Friends: American Made, World Played. In July 2005, a 90th-birthday tribute concert was held at Carnegie Hall in New York City. After performances by Steve Miller, Peter Frampton, Jose Feliciano and a number of other contemporary guitarists and vocalists, Les was presented with a commemorative guitar from the Gibson Guitar Corporation. In 2006, he won two Grammys at the 48th Annual Grammy Awards for his album Les Paul & Friends: American Made World Played. A biographical, feature length documentary, titled Chasing Sound: Les Paul at 90, made its world premiere on May 9, 2007 at the Downer Theater in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Les appeared at the event and spoke briefly to the enthusiastic crowd. The film is being distributed by Koch Entertainment and was broadcast on PBS on July 11, 2007 as part of its American Masters series and was broadcast on October 17, 2008 on BBC Four as part of its Guitar Night. The premiere coincided with the final part of a three part documentary by the BBC broadcast on BBC ONE entitled The Story of the Guitar. In June 2008, an exhibit showcasing his legacy and featuring items from his personal collection opened at Discovery World in Milwaukee. The exhibit was facilitated by a group of local musicians under the name Partnership for the Arts and Creative Excellence (PACE). Paul played a concert in Milwaukee to coincide with the opening of the exhibit. Les's hometown, Waukesha, Wisconsin is planning a permanent exhibit to be called "The Les Paul experience". On November 15, 2008, Les received the American Music Masters award through the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at a tribute concert in the State Theater in Cleveland. Among the many guest performers were Duane Eddy, Eric Carmen, Lonnie Mack, Jennifer Batten, Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, Dennis Coffey, James Burton, Billy Gibbons, Lenny Kaye, Steve Lukather, Barbara Lynn, Katy Moffatt, Alannah Myles, Richie Sambora, The Ventures, and Slash.
Les still performs every Monday night, accompanied by a trio which includes guitarist Lou Pallo, bassist Nicki Parrott and pianist John Colianni, at the Iridium Jazz Club on Broadway in New York City.
Red Hot Red ~ Les Paul
October 2008, at the age of 93, Les playing
at the Iridium Jazz Club in New York City


Feedback (1944) – compilation
Les Paul Trio (1946) – compilation
Hawaiian Paradise (1949)
The Hit Makers! (1950)
The New Sound (1950)
Les Paul's New Sound, Volume 2 (1951)
Bye Bye Blues! (1952)
Gallopin' Guitars (1952) – compilation
Les and Mary (1955)
Time to Dream (1957)
Lover's Luau (1959)
The Hits of Les and Mary (1960) – compilation
Bouquet of Roses (1962)
Warm and Wonderful (1962)
Swingin' South (1963)
Fabulous Les Paul and Mary Ford (1965)
Les Paul Now! (1968)
Guitar Tapestry
The Guitar Artistry of Les Paul (1971)
The World is Still Waiting for the Sunrise (1974) – compilation
The Best of Les Paul with Mary Ford (1974) – compilation
Chester and Lester (1976) – with Chet Atkins
Guitar Monsters (1977) – with Chet Atkins
Les Paul and Mary Ford (1978) – compilation
Multi Trackin' (1979)
All-Time Greatest Hits (1983) – compilation
The Very Best of Les Paul with Mary Ford (1983) – compilation
Tiger Rag (1984) – compilation
Famille Nombreuse (1992) – compilation
The World Is Waiting (1992) – compilation
The Best of the Capitol Masters: Selections From "The Legend and the Legacy" Box Set (1992) – compilation
All-Time Greatest Hits (1992) – compilation
Their All-Time Greatest Hits (1995) – compilation
Les Paul: The Legend and the Legacy (1996; a four-CD box set chronicling his years with Capitol Records)
16 Most Requested Songs (1996) – compilation
The Complete Decca Trios—Plus (1936-1947) (1997) – compilation
California Melodies (2003)
Les Paul & Friends: American Made World Played (2005)
Les Paul And Friends: A Tribute To A Legend (2008)

"It's Been a Long, Long Time" – Bing Crosby & The Les Paul Trio (1945)
"Rumors Are Flying" – Andrews Sisters & Les Paul (1946)
"Lover (When You're Near Me)" (1948)
"Brazil" (1948)
"What Is This Thing Called Love?" (1948)
"Nola" (1950)
"Goofus" (1950)
"Little Rock 69 Getaway" (1950/1951)
"Tennessee Waltz" – Les Paul & Mary Ford (1950/1951)
"Mockingbird Hill" – Les Paul & Mary Ford (1951)
"How High The Moon" – Les Paul & Mary Ford (1951)
"I Wish I Had Never Seen Sunshine" – Les Paul & Mary Ford (1951)
"The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise" – Les Paul & Mary Ford (1951)
"Just One More Chance" – Les Paul & Mary Ford (1951)
"Jazz Me Blues" (1951)
"Josephine" (1951)
"Whispering" (1951)
"Jingle Bells" (1951)
"Tiger Rag" – Les Paul & Mary Ford (1952)
"I'm Confessin' (That I Love You)" – Les Paul & Mary Ford (1952)
"Carioca" (1952)
"In the Good Old Summertime" – Les Paul & Mary Ford (1952)
"Smoke Rings" – Les Paul & Mary Ford (1952)
"Meet Mister Callaghan" (1952)
"Take Me In Your Arms And Hold Me" – Les Paul & Mary Ford (1952)
"Lady of Spain" (1952)
"My Baby's Coming Home" – Les Paul & Mary Ford (1952)
"Bye Bye Blues" – Les Paul & Mary Ford (1953)
"I'm Sitting On Top Of The World" – Les Paul & Mary Ford (1953)
"Sleep" (Fred Waring's theme song) (1953)
"Vaya Con Dios" – Les Paul & Mary Ford (1953)
"Johnny (Is The Boy For Me)" – Les Paul & Mary Ford (1953)
"Don'cha Hear Them Bells" – Les Paul & Mary Ford (1953)
"The Kangaroo" (1953)
"I Really Don't Want To Know" – Les Paul & Mary Ford (1954)
"I'm A Fool To Care" – Les Paul & Mary Ford (1954)
"Whither Thou Goest" – Les Paul & Mary Ford (1954)
"Mandolino" – Les Paul & Mary Ford (1954)
"Hummingbird" – Les Paul & Mary Ford (1955)
"Amukiriki (The Lord Willing)" – Les Paul & Mary Ford (1955)
"Magic Melody" – Les Paul & Mary Ford (1955)
"Texas Lady" – Les Paul & Mary Ford (1956)
"Moritat" (Theme from "Three Penny Opera") (1956)
"Nuevo Laredo" – Les Paul & Mary Ford (1956)
"Cinco Robles (Five Oaks)" – Les Paul & Mary Ford (1957)
"Put A Ring On My Finger" – Les Paul & Mary Ford (1958)
"Jura (I Swear I Love You)" – Les Paul & Mary Ford (1961)

He Changed The Music (Excalibur 1990), Living Legend Of The Electric Guitar (BMG 1995).

Les Paul: An American Original, Mary Alice Shaughnessy. Gibson Les Paul Book: A Complete History Of Les Paul Guitars, Tony Bacon and Paul Day.

Les Paul ~ Rest In Peace.

AUGUST 13th 2009
So sadly this amazing man and
great musician, with such an adventurous, searching and inventive mind, Les Paul has passed away at the age of 94. With his loving family and friends at his bedside, he died from complications of pneumonia at White Plains Hospital in White Plains, New York.
Over 70 years of influencial music ~ A trooper until the very end
.. Rest In Peace ..

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