Thursday, August 13, 2009

RIP Les Paul

We have seen a lot of celebrities pass away this year; especially within the past few weeks. And while the King of Pop was the best at what he did, and most of us grew up on John Hughes' movies, no life was taken that made such a large stamp on the world than that of Les Paul, who passed away today at the age 94. He created the world of electric guitars and effects, and opened the door for the musical pioneers of the past 100 years.

Think of a band, any band, and you can bet at least one member has played a Les Paul guitar. Hell, even an electric guitar. There would be no Led Zeppelin, no Beatles, no Rolling Stones, no Beach boys; name a band, and they would not exist had it not been for this man. He created not only the guitar that he is most well known for, but also many varied musical styles and equipment such as overdubbing, tape delay, multi-track recording, fretting techniques, etc., all which are still used to this very day.

While being more famous for his innovations and contributions to the world of music than the music he himself created, he was the man behind the music. He was man everyone was inspired by, from his Godson Steve Miller of the Steve Miller Band to Tom Scholz of Boston to Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine, to any musician who went beyond the four-chord wonder method. Woodie Guthrie once said "anything more than three chords is just showing off"...well thankfully Les didn't see it that way.

Writing this is a very surreal experience for me; I actually met and had a conversation with Les Paul a few years ago. Like the millions of other fans he had met in his life, I doubt he would remember me but he would always remember those lucky ones who had the honor of meeting him as a collective of music fans. People looked up to him as if he was Jesus walking on the notes and melodies made by the ripples of sound on the waves of the Sea of Galilee. And I can say from personal experience, he was one of the nicest, most humble of people I have ever had the honor of meeting.

Les Paul paved the road for the millions of musicians in the past 94 years, and there will never be another man who could contribute so much to the art of music. He was a one time in history man, and that is why all of us musicians still tread the path he paved, and always will; there will never be another as great to pave a different road to travel. Rest in peace Les, you will be missed.

and even though it all went wrong, I'll stand before the lord of song, with nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

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