Les Paul: 1915-2009
(CNN) — Les Paul, whose innovations with the electric guitar and studio technology made him one of the most important figures in recorded music, has died, according to a statement from his publicists. Paul was 94.
Paul died in White Plains, New York, from complications of severe pneumonia, according to the statement.
Paul was a guitar and electronics mastermind whose creations — such as
multitrack recording, tape delay and the solid-body guitar that bears
his name, the Gibson Les Paul — helped give rise to modern popular
music, including rock ‘n’ roll. No slouch on the guitar himself, he
continued playing at clubs into his 90s despite being hampered by
“If you only have two fingers [to work with], you
have to think, how will you play that chord?” he told CNN.com in a 2002
phone interview. “So you think of how to replace that chord with
several notes, and it gives the illusion of sounding like a chord.”
“The world has lost a truly innovative and exceptional human being
today. I cannot imagine life without Les Paul,” said Henry Juszkiewicz,
Chairman and CEO of Gibson Guitar. “He would walk into a room and put a
smile on anyone’s face. His musical charm was extraordinary and his
techniques unmatched anywhere in the world.”
I had the privilege of seeing him perform live– he was doing that for years, playing in a jazz club in New York once a week, giving unlabeled and almost unheralded master classes on how to create. Yeah, people would pony up big bucks to see Eddie Van Halen or Jimmy Page or the latest flash in the pan, but here was the guy who had been playing the electric guitar longer than anyone, by definition.
It’s hard to thnk of someone in comics who was at the level of Les Paul was for creating new technology and ways to tell stories. Steranko is about as close as I get. Who’s your nominee?