Friday, February 13, 2009

Les Paul - Legend

Lester William Polfus (Les Paul)Image via Wikipedia

The Birth of a Guitar Legend by Robert W. Walker

July 9, 1915 brought the birth of one of the greatest jazz guitarists the world has ever known. This was the day that Lester William Polfuss, better known as Les Paul, was born in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Little did his parents know how their little baby would change the guitar world with the Gibson Les Paul electric guitar.

Les began showing signs of musical interest and talent at the age of 8 when he took up playing the harmonica. In his teenage years he tried his hand at the banjo but instead chose the guitar as his instrument to master. He certainly succeeded in mastering the guitar and went on to revolutionalize not only guitar design but the face of Rock and Roll.

Les and Gibson Unite

Les became frustrated with the guitar designs of the 30's and began working on his own design. By 1941 Les had designed one of the first solid body electric guitars named "The Log". This design was recreated by Gibson in the early 50's when they introduced Les to their new guitar design. He entered into a contract with the Gibson Corporation to play this guitar exclusively which began the era of the Gibson electric guitar.

Later this guitar became known as the "Les Paul" sold only in the "Goldtop" version at that time and is highly collectible today. Les was under contract with Gibson to be seen only with this guitar for public appearances, and photos. This contract lasted through 1961 when Gibson changed the guitar design without consulting with Les so he ended the union with Gibson.

A few years later Eric Clapton brought back the original Les Paul guitar and soon thereafter Les and Gibson reunited with Les at the helm of the designs of his guitars. Today his early guitars are desirable to guitar players and collectors all over the world. The guitars were a big hit and to add to it all Les was also the key component in creating better pickups that guitar makers still use to compare against their new designs.

Les's Life and Achievements

Les played in various venues from his teenage years and beyond. He semi-retired in the late 60's but still performed in various venues well into the 90's. Les was in a car accident in which his elbow was broken in 1948 so he had his doctor set his elbow so he could continue what he loved to do.

In the late 40's Les was married to Mary Ford and they toured together. In 1964 Mary could no longer handle the busy life they led and they divorced. Les has been recognized and rewarded over the years and he and Mary were both inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Les is a highly respected musician all over the world and his technical advances in the guitar world will live forever.

Robert W. (Bob) Walker - I'm a big fan of the Gibson Les Paul in all of its variations. Please visit my blog ...

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