Australian Guitar - - Feature -

The Hum­ming­birds HIS­TORY

Les Paul was al­ways an in­no­va­tor – this is the man that sketched up a patent for the har­mon­ica stand while he was still a kid – and his name­sake Gib­son gui­tars are leg­endary.

The hus­band-and-wife duo of Les Paul and Mary Ford were in­tro­duced to each other by Gene Autry in 1946, mar­ried in 1949 and be­gan scor­ing pop hits in 1950, usu­ally built around Les’s un­prece­dented mul­ti­track record­ing sys­tem. A syn­di­cated TV show, LesPaul&MaryFordAt

Home, ran from ‘54 to ’ 55 and fea­tured charm­ing ban­ter and beau­ti­ful mu­sic. But Paul and Ford’s re­la­tion­ship wasn’t to last, and they di­vorced ac­ri­mo­niously in 1964. GREAT­EST ACHIEVE­MENTS

Paul was a to­tal over­achiever: the solid­body elec­tric gui­tar, high-im­ped­ance pick­ups, slap­back tape de­lays, mul­ti­track record­ing, loop­ing, weird tremolo sys­tems... He did it all. But some of his great­est achieve­ments came in his mu­si­cal col­lab­o­ra­tions with Ford, often with the two play­ing Gib­son gold­tops.

Al­though their re­la­tion­ship didn’t last, Ford was clearly Paul’s muse in the happy years but she also pushed him to meet her on her own el­e­vated mu­si­cal level. WHERE TO START How High The Moon

One of Paul’s more straight­for­ward gui­tar per­for­mances ac­com­pa­ny­ing a beau­ti­ful mul­ti­tracked Ford vo­cal. BOSS LEVEL Hum­ming­bird

Paul weaves a flut­ter­ing ar­ray of sped-up and har­monised gui­tar parts in­spired by the song’s name­sake bird. And the au­dio qual­ity of the en­tire track is be­yond stun­ning – es­pe­cially for some­thing recorded in 1955.

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