Friday, May 23, 2008

Three More Great Les Paul Gibson Guitarists

The Axemen of the Legendary Gibson Les Paul Guitar by Robin Piggott

The Les Paul has become synonymous with not only The Blues but with the Development of many facets of Rock music for well over fifty years! It first saw the light of day in 1952 with the "Gold Top" and has progressed through many incarnations to the present day. There is not a guitarist in the world that would pass up the opportunity to own and play the greatest Guitar of all time! Most players of note have owned a Les Paul at some stage of their careers; some continue to play no other instrument.

The shape of the Les Paul has remained very much the same throughout its long life with just a few variations from time to time in the early years. The double cutaway version of the Les Paul Special was perhaps the only real deviation from the traditional shape. It was a less expensive model and came and went in 1959. Of course when the resurgence of interest in The Gibson Les Paul came about in the early to mid nineteen sixties, Gibson were forced to reintroduce all models and have continued to reissue the most popular instruments to this day.

It would be fair to say that the renaissance of the Gibson Les Paul can be attributed to and traced back to just one Band that saw the light of day in 1962/3 as the British Blues Boom, as it became known, gathered momentum. Who are we talking about? Well none other than the most blueswailing Yardbirds. This Band produced arguably the three best known and most influential Blues and Rock Guitarists to ever play a Les Paul.

They don't need any introduction because just about everyone on the planet who hasn't been asleep for the last forty years will have heard their music.

All now in their Sixties, and as legendary as the Guitar they helped to promote Eric, Jeff and Jimmy single-handedly took the sixties by storm, turned it on its head and produced some of the most memorable music that has ever been recorded. While doing all of this they encouraged countless thousands of budding Guitarists to take up the challenge and today we have the most diverse musical scene that couldn't possibly have been imagined forty years ago!

Eric Clapton first started with a Kaye guitar, moving onto a Fender Telecaster before discovering the Les Paul with which he made his reputation. Actually it is just a little over three weeks to the fortieth anniversary of the issue of the Album that started it all.

The 22nd July 1966; the Producer Mike Vernon, the Engineer Gus Dudgeon; the Record Company Decca...the band John Mayall with Eric Clapton; the offering..."Bluesbreakers".

This album affectionately known to all serious players as the "Beano" album didn't set the record stores alight but showcased a legend in the making. Actually Eric was something of a legend already at this time with "Clapton is God" graffiti appearing all over London. A few months later a new Rock Monster came into being as Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker teamed up with Eric to form another legendary band that were to set the wheels (and the World) on fire so to speak with ... Cream.

Jeff Beck had taken over the Lead Guitar slot in the Yardbirds after the hasty departure of Eric Clapton who had left the band to join John Mayall. Jeff often played a Fender Telecaster and went onto make the Les Paul his favourite guitar for recording purposes. While not reaching quite the broad adulation that E.C. has achieved, Jeff Beck none the less has been a pivotal Guitar playing pioneer who is revered to this day.

Jimmy Page of course became probably the most commercially successful of the threesome with his groundbreaking Led Zeppelin. He was already a very much in- demand session player before he joined Jeff in the Yardbirds.Often he managed 10 sessions per week and all at the tender age of 19! His Custom Les Paul with three pickups and a bigsby tremolo unit, kind of matched his black hair and his persona. The hair incidentally had not yet reached the flowing curly locks of the Led Zepp era...a trade mark which he was to wear for several decades.

Three Giants of Music...

Three Blues Greats...

Three Masters of the Greatest Guitar of all time...

The Gibson Les Paul.

The author, while a Gibson owner and fanatic for over thirty years recently picked up his first Les Paul in one of London's most famous musical instrument shops in the West End. Macari's is well worth a visit if you are a guitar freak and the staff there are as good as you will find anywhere!

Robin Piggott is a Driving Instructor in Ireland who brings four decades of experience to his Astral Driving School based in Limerick. His newly refurbed web site due to launch in a few days can be found at Here you can find a treasure trove of everything for the Learner Driver and also pages for the visitor who is contemplating Touring Ireland by Car. In the meantime why don't you pay a visit to and pick up a mini course on How to pass your Driving Test First Time.

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