Les Paul re­mem­bered as mu­sic vi­sion­ary 100 years on

The China Post - - ARTS - BY SHAUN TAN­DON

Asked to name mu­sic su­per­stars, few in the gen­eral public would im­me­di­ately think of Les Paul. But 100 years af­ter his birth, his many ad­mir­ers are hop­ing to pro­mote him as one of mod­ern mu­sic’s in­dis­pens­able fig­ures.

Paul, who died in 2009, was an ac­claimed jazz gui­tarist but also a pro­lific in­ven­tor. He paved the way for the rock era by pi­o­neer­ing the elec­tric gui­tar and rev­o­lu­tion­ized how artists record mu­sic.

On what would have been his 100th birth­day Tues­day, a foun­da­tion ded­i­cated in his le­gacy set up a mini-mu­seum for the day in New York’s Times Square with a trib­ute con­cert in the evening.

“We’re rein­tro­duc­ing Les. We some­times joke around that Les is the most fa­mous per­son no­body knows,” said Michael Braun­stein, the ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of the Les Paul Foun­da­tion.

“When you ask chil­dren, or a cer­tain gen­er­a­tion, they think Les Paul is (only) a gui­tar,” he said, re­fer­ring to the Gibson in­stru­ments that bear his name.

Braun­stein — who, along with his grand­fa­ther and fa­ther, served suc­ces­sively as Paul’s manager — ar­gued that the gui­tarist’s im­pact was unique for its wide scope.

“We ar­gue that Les is the most in­flu­en­tial and im­por­tant in­di­vid­ual in the mu­sic

in­dus­try ever,” Braun­stein said.

Mu­si­cian and In­ven­tor

Even if one does not rank Paul us­ing such su­perla­tive terms, he is the only per­son en­shrined in both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Na­tional In­ven­tors Hall of Fame.

Paul’s key in­no­va­tion as a luthier was to cre­ate a solid-body elec­tric gui­tar.

Un­like an acous­tic gui­tar, whose hol­low body let the sound re­ver­ber­ate, the solid in­stru­ment sus­tained the pluck­ing of the strings — which could then be am­pli­fied.


In this Feb. 26, 2007 file photo, Gui­tar leg­end Les Paul per­forms at the Irid­ium Jazz Club in New York. A year­long cel­e­bra­tion mark­ing gui­tarist Les Paul’s 100th birth­day kicked off in Times Square in New York on Tues­day, June 9.

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