June 18th 2009

Electric guitar legend, Les Paul, dies

You might not know it, but Les Paul completely altered the way that folks hear and make music. Perhaps not a household name, the pop musician was one of the pioneers of a design that changed music thereafter.

He is foremost known for what he did in the 1950s with his then-wife Mary Ford, who, together, collected 36 gold records for a string of singles, including their nine-week Billboard topper How High the Moon.

They then separated and he focused on jazz, performing well into his 90s.

His most notable contribution, however, was that of the design of the electric guitar, resulting in the Gibson Les Paul, one of the most famous electric guitars ever made.

As if that wasn’t enough, he also invented the tape echo, sound-on-sound recording, and multitrack technology, all which permanently changed the way recordings are made.

“Without Les Paul, we would not have rock and roll as we know it,” Terry Stewart, president of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, told the Associated Press. “His inventions changed the infrastructure for the music. … He was truly an architect of rock and roll.”


Les Paul was born Lester William Polfus in Waukesha, Wisc., on June 9, 1915. He died on Aug. 13, 2009, in White Plains, N.Y., of complications from pneumonia. He leaves long-time companion Arlene Palmer, sons Lester, Gene and Robert, daughter Coleen, five grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

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As a musicologist, writer, personal fitness trainer and food-enthusiast, Laurie just can't decide what she likes best - so she does them all. She is also the editor of Ecoki.com, an eco-lifestyle community bringing you all things green.