Despite that rule, Paul recorded virtually all of his 1950s hits either at his New Jersey home, or on the road, pioneering the location recording that would eventually become popular with rock bands ranging from The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin to Tears for Fears.
He's reluctant to name a favorite guitarist, citing the uniqueness of each musician. "A fellow that plays finger-style, he may be awesome, but he can't do things a fellow can do with a pick, and vice versa. So each guy has his bag, and it has a limit."
To prove his point, he recounts a time he was standing on the corner outside of a Count Basie concert with Wes Montgomery, Pat Martino, and George Benson, when he began to laugh at his fellow superstar jazz guitarists. "What are you laughing about?", they asked.
"I told them, 'here's four of the greatest guitar players in the world standing on the corner all wishing they could play it like the other guy! Isn't that nice?"
I asked Les if he still invents, or if he's content to merely concentrate on his playing these days. Replying that he still is very much the tinkerer and inventor, we asked what he's working on next.
"Same thing I was working on in the '20s: 'I'm trying to make it better. There's a million ways of improving, there's a million different directions to go in, and I try to do all of them."
Just as he does with his music, every Monday night in New York. Not a bad way to round out the many lives he's led.
(Photographs by the author)