Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Through the Opera Glasses - 27 - Les Paul 1915 - 2009 / Scroll down for Wordless Wednesday

Guitarist Les Paul helped to change the musical landscape when he designed a solid-body electric guitar in the mid-1940's.

Last week at the age of 94, Les Paul passed away. But his legacy is so enormous and his influence so great, you are assured of hearing his guitars wherever rock music is played.

Photo Michael Ochs Archives/Corbis

Les Paul was what psychologist George Swede refers to as a Universal 2 Creator. In Creativity: A New Psychology, Swede defines Universal 2 creativity as "any collaborative works that affect large numbers, being unique and having value."

Without Les Paul's risk-taking innovation - before his solid-body design, all guitars were hollow-body - how would the crucial sound of the electric rock guitar have developed? Though Les Paul is sometimes referred to as the celebrity endorser of the Gibson guitar company's design, Les Paul had already built a solid-body prototype called The Log in his own workshop. In true Universal 2 Creator style, Les Paul collaborated with Gibson guitar makers to fashion an electric guitar he could passionately stand behind, push its physical limits and make personal modifications on.

Paul also experimented with early versions of laying tracks in the recording process - again by himself in his own workshop.

Here is just a sampling of guitarists who use Les Pauls as their instruments of choice:

Billie Joe Armstrong / Green Day

The Edge / U2

Robin Finck / Nine Inch Nails

Kirk Hammett / Metallica

George Harrison / The Beatles

Mick Jones / The Clash / Big Audio Dynamite

Lenny Kravitz

John Lennon / solo career

Alex Lifeson / Rush

Paul McCartney / The Beatles and solo career

Jimmy Page / Led Zeppelin

Keith Richards / The Rolling Stones

Pete Townshend / The Who

Neil Young

Here's Billie Joe Armstrong playing his Les Paul.

And here's Les Paul with his wife Mary Ford, playing his creation - the solid-body electric guitar.

Travis says A true innovator and pioneer. And he lived quite the long life.


Travis said...

A true innovator and pioneer. And he lived quite the long life.

Julia Smith said...

I admire the fact that he was still playing in a club once a week until very recently. I hope they still make them like that by the time I get old!