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The Many Lives of Les Paul

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Les Paul, the father of the electric guitar and multitrack recording, dressed in a thick, oatmeal-colored ribbed turtleneck sweater (and it’s in the high-70s and humid on this June 3rd day), navy blue trousers and black loafers, and wearing wire rimmed aviator-style glasses, is doing a sound check at 6:00 p.m., before the first of his two shows every Monday night at the Iridium Club on Broadway and 51st in Manhattan.

“Is my amp flat”? He asks. “It’s flat, Les.” Comes the reply from his soundman.

“On the dot?” “On the dot, Les.”

“It should be 4 decibels clean,” Paul replies. “In other words, when I hit this note” – Paul bangs the high E-string of his signature guitar – “it should be minus-four on the meter. On the tape machine, it should be zero. But I know this guitar is like a minesweeper, sometimes!”

Hard to believe this slight looking, but authoritative man is about to celebrate his 87th birthday next week. And even harder for me, as a part-time guitarist myself, to believe I was about to be interviewing him.

Who Is Les Paul?

Les PaulTo baby boomers, he’s the name on their, or their favorite guitarist’s instrument (as his recent commercial for Coors Beer made light of). To the previous generation, he’s a musician with a string of pop hits in the 1950s. And there are lots of older folks around who still remember his days from the 1930s, playing in Fred Waring’s Orchestra, and backing up Bing Crosby.

Clearly, while most people would be happy with one successful career, Les Paul is a man who can look back on several simultaneous lives.

Born Lester William Polfus on June 9, 1915 in Waukesha, Wisconsin, he began to teach himself not only the guitar, but electronic engineering when he was just a child. He later shortened his name to Les Paul (after a brief spell known as Rhubarb Red!) and played with big bands in the 1930s, such as Fred Waring’s outfit in the 1930s and with Bing Crosby in the 1940s.

Simultaneously, he also did much developmental work on the concept of the electric guitar. His electrical engineering skills led him to finally develop the electric solidbody guitar, designed initially to reduce feedback and increase the sustain of notes and chords.

Later in that same decade, he began developing the concept of sound on sound recording, first painstakingly overdubbing part after part on a 78 rpm record cutting machine, and then later on magnetic tape. The Beatles’ complex and masterful recordings of the late 1960s, as well as virtually all popular music recorded since, use the very methods he developed. Led Zeppelin’s albums, with layer upon layer of overdubbed, multitracked guitars, and often recorded in large country homes instead of professional recording studios, would be unthinkable without Paul’s first efforts away from a studio.

Rock and Roll’s Most Popular Instrument

In 1948, Paul was critically injured in a car crash and almost lost the use of his right arm. Rather than having it amputated, he pleaded with his doctors to set it in such a fashion that he could still pick a guitar.

Thankfully, they did – and this renewed lease on not only life but also his career, was the springboard for Paul’s most important decade as a musician.

In the 1950s, he began to write, record and play guitar on numerous gold records with his then-wife, Mary Ford. He also helped to design what would go on to be one of the most important instruments in rock and roll: the Gibson Les Paul electric guitar, played at various times in their careers by such notable musicians as B.B. King, John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Jeff Beck, Pete Townshend, Bob Marley, John McLaughlin (the jazz star, not the fellow with the talk show on PBS), and Slash of Guns and Roses. And when they’re in New York, many of these musicians often stop by to watch the man whose name is on their guitar, in action.

That’s a pretty impressive pedigree for an instrument that was designed in 1952 and today still sells in massive numbers. Paul’s personal stage guitar, while still a Gibson Les Paul electric, is not one of the highly desired 1950s versions. So how old is she? “I don’t know – I didn’t ask her!” is his response, proving that ultimately, it’s the musician, and not his instrument, that counts the most.

Les Paul guitar

Perhaps the appeal of the guitar he helped to design is its duality: its often beautiful finishes belie the fact that it’s essentially a solid plank of wood with strings. It was designed to be the cleanest, warmest sounding guitar possible for jazz and country musicians, but it only achieved its true popularity when it began to be played loudly and with mammoth distortion by rockers and bluesmen.

Another duality: the genre that Paul’s guitar would come to dominate, rock and roll, which also exploited the potential of his mulitrack recording theories the most, and bought his guitar by the thousands, significantly damaged Paul’s recording career, putting it into a slump for much of the 1960s, until the mid-1970s. During this period, he and Mary Ford would divorce in 1964, and she later died in 1976.

The Elder Statesman of Popular Music

But by the late 70s and early 80s, his current career as an elder statesman of popular music in general, and the electric guitar specifically, began to blossom.

In 1975, he officially came out of retirement with a concert at New York’s Carnegie Hall. In 1977, he released a Grammy Award winning record with Chet Atkins, called Chester and Lester. And in 1984, Paul began his regular gig playing every Monday night in New York, first at a club called Fat Tuesday’s and since 1996, at the Iridium Jazz Club, originally across from Lincoln Center, and now located at Broadway and 51st Street.

It was at the Iridium where we interviewed Paul, a week before his 87th birthday. Looking at least 15 years younger than his actual age, he’s also one sharp interviewee, as befits the godfather of popular music and its most popular instrument.

Between his soundcheck and our interview, a Gibson representative asked Paul to sign a Les Paul guitar that would be given to a leukemia fund. And after a 1998 concert at the Iridium, Paul spent a good ten minutes talking to a guitar-playing child who was attending via the Make a Wish Foundation. Paul asked him what kind of guitar he plays. When informed that it was a cheap imitation of a Les Paul, Paul asked the parents for the child’s address. It’s a safe bet a real Gibson Les Paul guitar arrived shortly thereafter.

The Quotable Les Paul

Once Paul finished signing, we began our interview. Because I play one his guitars, and use it to record my own music (when I’m not writing articles for magazines and the Internet), I was thrilled to be about to talk to the man who literally made it all possible. After a lengthy discussion about the history of the guitar that bears his name, I asked him what he thinks of today’s home recording boom, which allows virtually anyone to record their music on equipment ranging from four-track cassette recorders to computers equipped with special music recording software? “Well, that’s how I started, so I thought it was a very good idea! I’m sure the studios didn’t like it, but then they’ve never liked the idea.”

Paul says that in the 1950s, recording studios (perhaps via record labels or the various musicians’ unions) had created a rule that stated that if a musician was within 35 miles of a legitimate recording studio, he couldn’t make a record without a professional recording engineer from a studio there. “I lived 33 miles from New York, and they made me have an engineer. I said ‘unless he wants to sleep over, and wake up at five o’clock in the morning and go to bed at six pm….holy Cripes!'”

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)

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About Ed Driscoll

  • http://www.hbo3.com/ Howard Owens

    Fine piece. I’ve linked to it from my blog.

  • http://nowatermelons.blogspot.com J Bowen

    He was born Lester Polsfuss according to various other sources.

    Maybe you chose not to mention it, but I understand that not only is he about 87 years old, but he has a degenerative disease that affects his hands beyond his years. I can’t imagine him stopping though.

    Good work.

  • http://www.eddriscoll.com Ed Driscoll

    J,

    Thanks for the kind words, I really appreciate them. As far as Les’ birth name, I think I’ve seen it spelled Polsfuss myself–however, I took the spelling from the Internet Movie Database’s page on Les.

    While I’m far from an expert on his life, the only degenerative disease that I’ve read that Les has is arthritis, but that, combined with a right arm that can’t move at the elbow would be enough to stop most musicians half his age in their tracks–but somehow, he keeps on playing.

    And hopefully will for sometime to come!

    Ed

  • jerry

    i love les and chet,they are awesome…liked your interveiw,,are they doing a tv special on les? i would love it .. take care..ps am a finger picker..

  • http://www.howardowens.com Howard Owens

    Good piece. Les Paul is the original Guitar God.

  • Steve Teeter

    I don’t want to seem to minimize the achievements of Les Paul, which are enormous, but while he may have “developed,” as in furthered, sound on sound recording, he certainly didn’t invent it.

    On April 18, 1941, jazz great Sidney Bechet recorded two sides as “Sidney Bechet’s One Man Band,” playing clarinet, soprano sax, tenor sax, piano, string bass, and drums. It was an overdubbing job using 78 phonograph equipment, and was fearsomely difficult, done largely as a stunt dreamed up by his recording producer.

    Later musicians, including Les Paul, certainly developed the technique far beyond that relatively primitive attempt, but the title of “first” goes to Bechet.

  • x

    What Billy said. Tango singer Carlos Gardel also cut a record where he overdubbed his own voice, back in the ’30s (or ’20s), singing along with a previously recorded 78. Cool low-tech trick, but definitely not multitrack recording.

    Great article, by the way. I have to go see Les Paul some day (may he live to be 120).

  • Steve Teeter

    Ah. That IS different.

  • http://cdjjkj@aol.com Don J

    Great article about a music pioneer!

  • BWR

    Really nice piece on a fine musician and innovator. For some additional information about the development of the original Les Paul guitars in the early 1950s, check out Tom Wheeler’s book “American Guitars” or A.R. Duchossoir’s book “Gibson Electrics” – – there’s a wealth of information there about Gibson’s development of the instrument and its pitch to Les Paul to endorse them.

  • Bill Gwaaltney

    I only saw Les once with Mary in 1950 and still have the autographed picture along with all of his records which I cherish very much. Bill Gwaltney

  • duane

    Billy Beck, I owned a 73 Les Paul and a 63 ES-335 (not the 355) and a couple of Strats, as well, and an Ibanez. I loved them all, but there’s no doubt that the Gibsons have their role.

    Since there are a number of experts looking at this blog, I was wondering if Les got rich as the inventor of the guitar bearing his name.

  • http://www.eddriscoll.com/weblog.html Ed Driscoll

    Duane,

    I believe that Les receives royalties from the sale of each Gibson and Epiphone (the cheaper, authorized “clones” of the higher-end Gibson line) guitar. And there have been a pretty fair number of those sold over the years!

    I’m no expert on Les’s finances, but I would assume that between the royalties and the name recognition of the guitar, which has kept Les’s name in the spotlights far longer than most other 1950s superstars, his weekly gig in New York, and the sales of his back catalog of music, Les is not hurting financially.

    Ed

  • john

    Sure wish there was more about Mary Ford on the site!

  • Bill Harris

    I bought one of the first edition Les Paul Gibson guitars and later sold it because of the strings being under the bridge. HOW DUMB!!!! Have been a fan of Les Paul forever.

    Bill

  • KRIS ODEL

    JOHN, WITH REGARDS TO MARY…LES SORT OF HAPPEND UPON HER WHEN HE WAS ARRANGING A REPRISAL OF A COUNTRY WESTERN SHOW HE’D DONE IN THE 30S & 40S. A FRIEND OF HIS, GENE AUTRY, SUGGESTED ONE OF HIS BACK-UP SINGERS. COLLEEN SOMMERS WAS INVITED OUT TO LES’ HOUSE (I BELIEVE IT WAS IN HOLLYWOOD, CA AT THE TIME). THERE IS THIS GREAT STORY ABOUT THAT DAY THAT COLLEEN SHOWED UP AT LES’ AND HE WAS OUT MOWING THE LAWN. COLLEEN ASK IF LES LIVED THERE AND MOTIONED HER BACK TO THE GARAGE (WHERE HE REHEARSED AND RECORDED ON THAT RECORD CUTTING MACHINE). HE FINISHED UP HIS YARD WORK AND WENT BACK TO THE GARAGE WHERE COLLEEN HAD JUST BEEN LIFTED THROUGH THE WINDOW (THE ONLY WAY INTO THE BUILDING DUE TO ALL THE EQUIPMENT). WHEN LES FOLLOWED, COLLEEN ASKED WHERE LES WAS. LES INTRODUCED HIMSELF. COLLEEN SAID SHE THOUGHT HE WAS ‘THE GARDENER’. SHE DIDN’T BELVIEVE HIM UNTIL HE PLAYED HIS GUITAR FOR HER. EVIDENTALLY, THERE AFTER SHE WAS HOOKED.
    THERE LIFE TOGETHER AS LES & MARY BEGAN WHEN LES DECIDED THAT COLLEEN’S NAME WAS TOO PLAIN FOR THE ACT (THE WESTERN SHOW) SO SHE BECAME MARY LU. LATER WHEN THEY WERE DONE WITH THE WESTERN GIG LES THOUGHT THEY SHOULD GIVE MARY A VERY PRESTIGEOUS LAST NAME. THEY STARTED LOOKING AT NAMES LIKE ROCKERFELLER AND THE LIKE BUT LANDED ON ‘FORD’.
    MOST OF WHAT THE RECORDED TOGETHER WAS EITHER AT THE HOUSE OR ON THE ROAD AS WELL AS WHAT WAS TRANSCRIBED FOR THEIR RADIO SHOW.
    THEY MADE AN UNBELIEVABLE NUMBER OF HITS IN THE FIFTIES AND EARLY SIXTIES. MARY BY THE END OF THAT TIME WANTED TO SLOW DOWN AND STOP TOURING AND RECORDING SO MUCH. LES ADMITS HE COULDN’T STOP. SO LES KEPT GOING AND MARY RETIRED. MARY PASSED AWAY IN THE LATE 70S OF A DIABETES RELATED DEATH.
    IF YOU WANT TO KNOW HOW LES FELT & STILL FEELS ABOUT MARY JUST WATCH THE VIDEO TAPE FROM 1992, “LES PAUL…THE LIVING LEGEND OF THE ELECTRIC GUITAR”
    JOHN & ALL I HOPE THIS FILLS IN SOME OF THE GAPS ABOUT MARY. I’M NOT A CREDITED
    WRITER AND I’M SURE THERE ARE THINGS MISSING OR SOME FUZZY FACTS BUT I’VE READ QUITE A BIT ABOUT THEM (LES & MARY) AND I THINK I’VE GOT IT RIGHT FOR THE MOST PART. I HOPE THIS WETS YOUR APPETITE FOR SOME MORE RESEARCH.

  • Scott Wilhite

    Great article! I’m a big Les Paul fan. In the late 80’s or early 90’s there was a special on Cinemax Sessions called “A Tribute to Les Paul”. It featured many great guitarists including Steve Miller, Eddie Van halaen, David Gilmour and several others. Does anyone out therehave any ideas where to obtain a copy of this show? I would greatly appreciate any leads.

  • Amgad Maher

    I’m sorry ,I just need to know some Gibson egent to fix my guitar at Germane Case I have Frind in Germany will help me

  • david goetz

    I really enjoyed this piece.. i own an old les paul/mary ford 45 record called “song in blue”. i’ve searched dicographies and can’t find it listed. Does anyone know anything about this recording?? it’s got to be an early example of spedup multi-tracking..

  • http://expatcat.typepad.com felix

    I remember reading that Les recorded those duets with Mary Ford like “How high the moon” using two reel to reel decks….recording the last harmony parts first, then bouncing to another deck while recording primary harmonies….then bouncing a final time while playing and singing the melody lines so the basic tracks would have the best fidelity. Real musicianship.
    As for the poster hoping to hear Les and Chet Atkins, sad to say that Chet passed away a year or so ago. I have a couple Cds recorded by the two of them, usually recorded in a couple days, and including a little banter between them which is pretty funny.
    Giants.

  • Connie Boundy

    Many years ago, my grandfather, Herbert Webb played piano with Les Paul, probably in the early 40’s. I was looking to see if any of his recordings listed my grandfather as a musician. If anyone knows, please email me with the information.

    Thank you.

  • Stuart L Leech

    We had lots of dealings in the late 90’s with les to set up a club which fans could go to in europe for info on les and guitars etc we had many long conversatios on the topic Les was very keen to get this going ,but due to his commitments we still are talking…good luck old timer keep picking!!!

  • http://www.bentrain.com/ Benjamin Train

    Kris Odell has made a good contribution to your archive, except for the-all caps. My Stepfather; “Phil Brooks” with KMPX I think it was, helped to promote Les Paul and Mary Ford while they where in Hollywood. I spent time in their home there. They used to save pennies for me in a large jar. At that time, the “Little Black Box” Les was working on, that later became the pick-up for the Gibson Les Paul electric guitar, was in several stages of development. He was always trying something new. He would share his latest ideas or songs with my stepfather and mom. I think I still have some of the first cuts on 78’s signed by Les and Mary. His home there was not fancy, but Mary made it much neater. I was looking back over my own life in the back yard, just a few minutes ago and wondered if it was possible to reach Les by phone or by an Internet forum to say thank you before he passed away. The next thing I know, I’m adding a paragraph or two in your blog. “How high the moon” and others notes posted here bring back very fond memories for me. Thank you for creating this forum. Isn’t it amazing what one person can do in a lifetime. Les Paul has made his mark.

  • http://www.eastbaymusicscene.com Mike Govette

    I stumbled upon these postings and have enjoyed them a lot.
    In 1951, my father bought my mother a Gibson Les Paul gold top which was rare indeed: It was issued without a serial number, and has a trapese bridge. This guitar, I’m told, is less collectable because it is basically less playable. Through experience I found this to be true. The combination tailpiece/bridge which holds the strings in place by the string tension only, moves when you bend notes or attact too hard. The guitar is then out of tune.
    I still have a picture of my mom playing it in the early 1950s.
    I began playing this guitar around 1965, at age 14.
    I begged for a new guitar because I thought the Les Paul was too heavy. I got a bright red Teisco (sp?) with a chome pick guard!
    As I got better at playing, I realized what I had and took up the Paul again.
    I still have thiw guitar, the only item my mother specifically left me in her will.
    I have always wanted to show it to Les Paul himself, because it is such a piece of history. So, I too would like to know how to contact the man.
    A while back I caught Les Paul playing with Jeff Beck on TV. The two were having a great time, trading licks.
    I remember Les playing some cool flat picking lead, and when Jeff “answered” with a scorching lead of his own, Les reached over and unplugged Jeff’s guitar IN THE MIDDLE OF HIS LEAD, for a joke! Jeff cracked up, plugged back in and kept going. It was a true pleasure to see two great guitarists truly enjoying themselves, minus the rock star posturing and one-upmanship that permeats other jam sessions.
    Anyway, thanks for the forum. I enjoyed posting this info.
    Mike Govette

  • John

    I read this article in Cleveland after spending almost a full day at the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame.

    There is an extensive Les Paul and Mary Ford exhibit along with many of the guitars that bear Les’ name. Included in the exhibit is a photo of Les’ mother aged 100 in 1985 along with a wedding photo of Les and Mary.
    There is an extensive video of Les telling of his experiences that is indexed between the technical, musical, inventive, and personal aspects of his remarkable life.

    I would reccommend a visit to all who have a chance to get there.

    John

  • Jack Rose

    My grandfather (died 1961) was a studio musician and told of knowing Mr. Paul. Anyone know how to get in contact with him. I did not know my grandfather very well but would like to verify the story and if true find out what Mr. Paul remembers of him. His name was Jack Rose. He was also on “Don McNeals Breakfast Club” on radio in the 1940’s.

  • Ronny Reuter

    I have enjoyed Les’ style since I was a baby. I am now chasing sixty years old. He’s been my favorite musician all of my life, and that won’t ever change. Considering that he has arthritis in both hands, the bad right elbow, and all the other things that have plagued him, he still plays better than anyone else around. NOW, THAT’S A HERO IN MY BOOK!

  • Walter Jenny

    Les Paul has always been listed as a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity. But nobody seems to know how that came about. Do any Les Paul fans know the story? Thanks.
    Best wishes,
    Walter Jenny
    Edmond OK

  • Walter Jenny

    Les Paul has always been listed as a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity. But nobody seems to know how that came about. Do any Les Paul fans know the story? Excellent site. Thanks.
    Best wishes,
    Walter Jenny
    Edmond OK

  • Conrad Hayden

    Just wanted to know if Les has an e-mail address or an agency that handles his mail/email? I would love the opportunity to say thank you to this truly remarkable man.
    Conrad Hayden

  • Elke

    Hi, I have a question to anyone how is reading this. I am from Germany and my father is a great fan (I think the biggest fan you´ve ever seen) of Les Paul. In Germany it is very difficult to find anything about Les.
    CAn anybody help me to find out his autogramm adress? Please help me.
    ELke

  • Willy Van den Berghe

    First of all , my English isn’t a 100% but “Here We Go”
    I can say that I got all of LES’ (and Mary’s ) Capitol recordings starting with “Until I Hold You Again ” b/w “You Can’t Expect Kisses From Me ” Capitol 623 from May ’49 up until Febr.58 with “Small Island” b/w “More and More Each Day” and everything in between. It took me 48 years to find the last missing Capitol record “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer” Capitol 3302 recorded Dec ’51 When I was living in Belgium I started the Belgian “Les and Mary Fan Club”and had the good fortune to correspond with Les and Mary . Unfortunately I never had the chance to meet them in person . The closest I’ve ever been to them was 48 Km away when they landed unexpectedly in Brussels on their way to Paris .On that occasion Les wrote me Jan.2 , 1956 “We are sorry we didn’t get to see you while we were in Europe but our visit to Belgium wasn’t in our original plans and it wasn’t until the last minute when we decided to go there.As it was , it was just a quick visit and then we had to run on to Paris . Let’s hope for better luck next time. Les
    Better luck next time never came .Now I’m living in Australia (for the last 4 years but I’m still the same Les Paul fan I was 54 years ago . I know some of You claim to be Les Paul fans (and I’m sure You are , but tell me “how many of you can say they have Les and Mary’s photo sitting on their mantelpiece for the last 50 odd years ?? The walls in my “study” are decorated with Les’ and Mary’s photo’s and letters . I also have all their Columbia recordings . It took me years before i got all of them because after their split from Capitol only 4 Columbia singles and 2 albums where released in Belgium late ’59 early 60’s
    I’m still trying to find some of Les’ 1940’s recordings Maybe someone who’s reading this can help me out ?
    I hope this email comes through because I had some trouble with it the last week .See Testing Willy on comment 34-37
    Willy

  • GEORGE

    WHAT WAS THE NAME OF LES’S Paul’s restaurant on pearl river NY.

    or did he just play is a restaurant in PEARL rIVER ny.

    Thanx

  • Ron

    When I was growing up my Dad owned a radio station in Harrisburg, PA, WCMB.
    Each summer they had a WCMB “Day” at Hershey Park and Les Paul and Mary Ford often played for it. One year I sat in on the orchestra, Red McCarthy’s Orchestra, playing trumpet. I watched as Les demonstrated to the audience how the voiceovers were put together. He had Mary sing a part to a song, then waited, did something with his guitar, then had her sing again, with the original playing, kept repeating this until he had the number of voices and the sound he wanted. I had no clue, at the time, how remarkable this was.
    I met him and Mary on more than one occasion. What a memory….playing on stage with Les Paul and Mary Ford. I loved reading your bio of Les and I still listen to their music on my casette player.

  • John Ray

    Does anyone know where I can obtain a video or DVD with live performances of Les Paul and Mary Ford? I know they did quite a few TV appearances. Somewhere there must be copies available. Thanks, John

  • Annette Smith

    I have been a Les Paul fan since the 50’s. In my high school year book under my picture, my most prized possession is listed as my Les Paul/Mary Ford records (I still have them). I was at the Iridium the Monday night before Les’ 87th birthday. I got to tell that to Russ, who wanted to know if I would part with those records! But I’m not ready to do that). I managed to get Les’ autograph, and now that is a prized possession too! He is truly one of the great ones, and his music has added more to my life than I can ever say!
    Thanks. Annette

  • Dane

    I’ve got a 61 Les Paul that my dad gave me when I was 16…I’m 58 now and am still tryin to learn how to play 1/100th as good as Les…..He is a national treasure….

  • Lois

    I have the Guitar Monsters Album with Les Paul and Chet Atkins. Did they record any others. It is one of favorites and if there is another one, I would like a copy. Thanks

  • bob

    with regards to georges comment,on les’ restaruant,,,frankly,,i dont think he has ever owned one,,,however,i have worked for les in the late eighties,,early 90’s and know of two restarants he might have played,,one being ht mc dougals in mahwah n.j.and the other being,,the seven seas rest in oradell nj,,he being a celebrity and his private life being preciuos,,i cant devulge more..however,he is still a close freind and a very real,kind,and warmhuman being,,,with great love of his freinds and family,. he is truly a gas to hang out with,,

  • Richard Gunn

    I saw Les’ set at the Iridium during a weeks holiday in NY a couple of weeks ago. He is still great and I guessed that he was in his 70s, I would never have guessed that he was 89! Amazing, so glad to have had the opportunity to see and hear a legend play.

  • http://BR beverly

    Thank u very much this was realy nice but i was wondering can u send me some more info on him before it hits friday i have a report to do on him can u send it to manma@yahoo.com and i will write back.

    THANK YOU

  • Jack Wise

    Just looking for anything on video of Les Paul and Chet Atkins. Anthology, Recording sessions, out takes, ecc…
    Preferably on DVD Or VHS.

  • Hans Busch

    HELP!!!! From anyone outthere in the music world. I had in my possession in the late 50th a 45 single by Les Paul with “Delicado” on side A & “Amorada” on side B. Nothing compares to it, not even Chat Atkins version. I would love to hear it again. Does anyone know of its existance? I have checked archives & other sources without success. Someone must know it existed. Hoping for a reply. Thanks in advance Hans B.

  • Hans Busch

    To Willy Van den Berghe re: comment #39,
    I just read your comment and based on it, I would think, you would be able to answer my quest in search of…… see comment #51 Nov. 4. 2004. Even if you cannot help, please reply. Its nice to know, someone acknowledes once existance. Good luck in your quest to meet Paul.
    Regards; Hans B.

  • Ken B

    Love reading all this stuff. So great to see so many of Les’ fans here. I grew up with Les & Mary on the radio and TV. They were my mother’s favorite artists and she had the show on every day. I seem to remember that it was on twice a day for like 15 minutes each broadcast. Maybe I’m wrong but I remember it being on more than once each day. For the past 12 years I’ve lived in Seoul, Korea working for the US Army under contract. Before that I lived for a few years in So. Cal., but I’m originally from NY and lived in NJ for 10 years. Prior to moving out to Cali, my wife (now ex) and I went to Fat Tuesday’s to hear Les play and as expected, it was a great show. We sat right up front and Les played every request. Of course they were all the favorites anyway, so he’d probably have played them no matter what. But he was a great musician, a great gentleman, and a great showman, and the small crowd loved him for it. Afterward, he generously signed autographs. I bought a tee-shirt with his picture on it (holding his famous guitar) which he gladly signed. We chatted a bit and I told him how much my mother (deceased) loved him and Mary. He smiled at the mention of Mary. I asked around at the bar and found a thick black marking pen and he used that to sign the shirt. He asked my name and signed it to me personally with a greeting; “Howdy Ken! Les Paul”. The waitress let us use the back of her tray so the shirt lay flat and the signature came out good. Damn, it was spot on like the signature on the headstock of an LP Standard! (duh, why am I so surprised??!!) I still have the shirt, I’ll never give it up either. A few years ago, I found an out of print Japanese copy of the Chester and Lester CD in a Tokyo record store, and I play it often. Sorry to bore you all with my rambling story, but stumbling on this site and reading everybodies comments – I was reminded of how much I long to hear Les play live again. Hope he lives forever! His music and legend sure will! Les is MORE!

  • Sammy Ash

    I am trying to locate Les current attorney. Do you have a name or number for him?
    Thanks
    Sammy Ash

  • (Olga) Dolly Salisbury

    Heard Les Paul via WOR this a.m. driving into work. What an inspriation! I will think of Les whenever I’m down (my age 74) – And I also enjoy most his album Hawaiian Paradise. May Les enjoy many happy years remidning us all how precious life is.

  • Chris

    Its a sad fact that I have never heard a Les Paul recording. However my prized possession is an early 70s Les Paul Custom which I play in preference to my strats, sg, etc. What an inspiration this site is to anyone with an interest in the man and his achievements. He is probably the person most singly responsible for the evolution of not only the instrument but the music industry in general. I will probably never see or meet him – but then I dont need to cos like the rest on this site, he has touched me and thats good enough for me :-). Live long and prosper sir

  • austin

    les paul is great, but what about the unforgettable marcus stratocaster? let’s not forget his many ingenious gifts to the world of music: the two-piece bolt-on neck is still hated in record numbers, the thin-as-a-pubic-hair ground wires are probably coming loose around the world as i write, and of course, the single coil pickup speaks volumes as to the brilliance of this man.

  • ken honeyman

    All fans of Mr. Paul i encourage to get the book[bio] “Les Paul”, by Mary Shaughnessey. pub 1993… Sorry don’t know what publisher… Does anyone know how much time he spent in New Jersey? the book is not too specific about that.

  • Marina

    Great informative article, I as if living in a cave have not heard who has invented multi-tracking eventhough I use it quite often, as a student of music technology at the moment, extremely helpful article! Is it fine with Ed Driscoll if I cite this article in a paper on Les Paul? Thanks!

  • Duff Yazzie

    I always liked all the stuff the Les Paul trio put out. Especially their rendition of How High the Moon

    Duff

  • Duff Yazzie

    Oh yeah, I own three Pauls and I have always loved the tone that they give out, that nice kick in the amp I like to call it. One is a 1992 Standard, Heritage Cerry Sunburst, one is a 1999 Les Paul Special SL, and the last one is a Vintage Mahogany model. I do remember also while learning audio engineering that he did coin the concept of multitrack recording in the RCA studios. The man himself is brilliant.

  • hank raymond

    i went to a les paul and mary ford concert at the town casino in buffalo new york in the early 60’s.i bought every record i could of them.i was in my teens then /and still love every piece of music i listen to at musicmatch jukebox.i just keyed in his name and up popped lots of his music.check it out folks/u can listen to just clips or pay $9.95 a month to find over 800,000 songs of all kinds of musicians.long live the true king!!!

  • hank raymond

    or was the late 50’s/ not sure/but i am forever grateful that i went to hear both of them.i would love to go and hear les again if it was possible.thanks for this info on both of them and him now!!even if he couldnt use his right arm/i bet he could use his right foot!!

  • Willy Van den Berghe

    To Hans Bush
    I wrote you a few days after you posted your message 51 but couldn’t get through
    Have to see how THIS works out and then ‘ll try to remember what I found out for you
    Hope it works out
    Willy

  • Willy Van den Berghe

    To Hans Bush
    In reply to your message 52 .
    I’ve never heard of a Les (and Mary) recording of those titles and I (pretend) to know them all . I even know of a few titles I never found in any list so far , but Delicado/Amorada isn’t among them The only recording of both songs I know of is by Percy Faith and his orchestra with Stan Freeman playing the harpsicord solo on it. It is possible that after 50 years you have mixed-up Stan Freeman’s solo with Les’ cascades of notes Another possibility is that it was German guitarist Ladi Geissler . I think he recorded both tunes but I do not remember them as being on one record . I tried to find proof of that but the only thing I found out was that he is still active but couldn’t find any trace of his recordings from way back then .
    So , in my opinion no Les Paul recording of Delicado and Amorada .
    Sorry for my (very)
    bad English
    Regards
    Willy

  • Willy Van den Berghe

    Dear Hans B.
    Maybe it was Al Caiola . He recorded Delicado as well but (I think) not with Amorada on the other side.
    On the other hand Danish guitarist Jorgen Ingmann recorded Amorada but not with Delicado on the other side of the record
    Willy

  • bruce

    I have always loved Les and Mary. Even had a few Les Paul and JR,s in my time. I have their album # HL 7333, Harmony Records,(if anybody needs to try to find one), “The Fabulous Les Paul and Mary Ford” album. Also has a # XLP 78768, on it.
    I have an old Epiphone I still pick on once in a while, But my prize is a 1948 “Serenader” Electric Bass my dad bought new in 1948, by Bud-Electro co, seattle, Washington.
    It dose my heart well to hear that Les is well and fine. I wish him all the best. Bruce.

  • haily

    hi im haily mom used 2 b a huge fan of les paul see ya

  • fred dooley

    Chet Atkins & Les put out a wonderful LP in about 1976, “Chester & Lester”; part of an ongoing duet series Chet did with guitar masters such as Merle Travis, Doc Watson & Mark Knopfler. When the “Guitar Monsters” album came out about 1977 my picker friends and I decided that it was a superb collection of out-takes from the “Chester and Lester” recording session. Their “second best” is still a
    fabulous album. I bought a well-used 1955 LP custom “black beauty” at Swat’s Pawn & Loan in San Angelo, Texas in the fall of 1964. Cost $90-US, fully two weeks of field work picking corn. Dream come true. I’ve never played it around others without people wanting to buy it off me. Les my old guitar and Les the man are not as shiny as they were 50 years ago, but are much more beautiful and are making music that makes people happy.

  • Felix Torres

    When I heard Les for the first time, his music style really change my mode to play my guitar. This was in 1957. I alway dream to meet him personally. I ued to hear a five minutes at 12 noon on TV. he is my mentor. Desire to know more about any TV show like or his performance. Wishing a very long life to Les and hope to see him any time.

  • Ed Howard

    I have a Les Paul Custon from around 1980. Not many guitars sound this good
    A lot of people would like to get it.
    It will probably never be sold
    This is a guitar of a lifetime.

  • mario amaral

    vy happy if i could send a big hug,to that great artist of my time , i have almosto every records

  • http://www.soulshine.ca/news/newsarticle.php?nid=2486 Sydney

    As reported by SoulShine.ca, Les Paul has hit the Billboard top 200 charts this week with his newest album, “Les Paul & Friends: American Made World Played”. This is his first album to be released in 50 years.

    Read Full Article

  • Willy

    Dear Sydney Comment 73
    His first album in 50 years ???!!!
    And what about….
    Lover’s Luau Released 23 Mar.59
    Warm and Wonderful ” 18 Dec 61
    Bouquet of Roses ” 16 Jul 62
    Swinging South ” 13 May 63
    Les Paul Now ” 68
    Chester and Lester ” Feb 76
    Guitar Monsters ” Jun 78

  • zfore

    les paul is awesome

  • George Martin

    Could anyone furnish a list of the Christmas songs recorded by Les Paul and Mary Ford? I can only find 4.

  • Willy

    Comment 77
    Dear George
    There are 6 Christmas songs recorded by Les and Mary
    1.Jingle Bells Master number 9173 26 Nov.1951
    2.Silent Night Master number 9174 26 Nov.1951
    both titles on Capitol 1881 78 r.p.m.
    3.JUngle Bells Master 11880 12 Oct 1953
    4.White Christmas Master 11881 12 Oct 1953
    both titles on Capitol 2617
    5.Rudolph the Red-Nosed-Reindeer Master 12882
    6.Santa Claus is Coming to Town Master 14689
    both titles on Capitol 3302

    TITLES 1 , 2 , 4 and 6 have been released on a 45 r.p.m. Extented Play Disc EAP 1 – 543
    title Christmas Cheer . Released October 1954

    Title 3 is Jungle Bells (Dingo-Dongo-Day)

    From Willy Van den Berghe Australia see also comments a.o. 39 and 65

  • Willy Van den Berghe Austalia

    Dear George Comment 77

    Forgot ” The Christmas Song ” Composer Mel Torme/Robert Wells Recorded 1961 but released for the first time in 2001 on “The Columbia Singles Collection” COL-CD-6863 Track 21 Label Collectables Sony Special Products
    Willy

  • http://www.wholechildreform.com Eldon Lee Jr.

    From talking to my dad, prior to the 30’s, Les Paul would perform with groups near his Waukesha WI home with his guitar and banjo. Banjo you say? I was told he played the banjo because it was louder and could be heard in a dance band. Maybe that lead to his development of the electric guitar.

    My dad was a trumpet player and always enjoyed it when Les Paul would come to Michigan / Indiana to play with them as a guest artist. Then they could sit and talk music at the breaks. My dad died in April 2005 at the age of 97 still talking about his enjoyment of Les Paul the musician and the person.

    Eldon Lee Jr.

  • http://alienboysworld.blogspot.com/ Christopher Rose

    Comment #73 above was chosen as Comment of the Day for Saturday 17th December 2005.

  • Phil

    Hi # 19.

    I am watching “A Tribute To Les Paul” as I read your post.
    As a young guitarist with no cinemax I had my brother in law tape it for me.
    I haven’t watched in in years and was fascinated by Les Pauls playing so I did a search for more info.
    Anyways,
    It was filmed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in the late 80’s and also featured ,BB King, Waylon Jennings, Rita Coolidge, Carly Simon, Stanley Jordan, The Stray Cats and the Les Pauls Trio.
    I’ve searched everywhere for it but cant find anything.
    My copy is on VHS tape, it’s grainy and there is no sound towards the end.
    I can capture the video to the comp and put on kazaa if you want.

    Phil

  • http://lespaul&maryford larry

    my favorite was chanson d: amor! ithink it was them

  • Willy Van den Bergh

    Comment # 76 reply

    It wasn,t

  • http://www.ezdate123.com/popular-videos-1.php Mike

    I enjoyed the article on Les Paul. My first good guitar was a Les Paul Gibson Deluxe cherry sunburst. I paid $335.00 in 1974.. Wis I still had that guitar. My influences were Jimmy Page and Phil Keaggy of the Glass Harp days..I still play and now have a Fender Ultra Strat and two pedal steel guitars… Been in several bands but currently just play at home… I love music and live music…Thanks again for a great cover on a legend… Best to all, Mike/Ohio

  • Dickie Cox

    Great article Ed, but how about an update? How’s Mr. Paul doing in 2006? Whenever the great American inventors are listed, he should be right there alongside Thomas Edison and Henry Ford! In the spring of ’76 I met him at a concert at the University of Ga. in Athens about a year after he came out of retirement. I asked him why he put out so few records in the 60’s and early 70’s. “I’m not a rock and roller” he said “and that’s what’s selling now, but I’ve just recently learned that I seem to be highly regarded by the rock players (boy,was that an understatement!) so that’s why I’m here, to see if there’s any interest in the kind of stuff that I do, in fact, I’m doing a few sessions with Chet Atkins right now and we’re going to put out a record.” Of course that record did come out the next year and I was delighted when he and Mr.Atkins won the Grammy for it. A few years after that,I believe it was the early 80’s, the USA cable network showed an extraordinary documentary on their weekly show “Night Flight” called “The Wizard of Waukesha”. It showed interviews with Mike Bloomfield, Rick Derringer, and others including the man himself, and had clips from old movie shorts that Mr. Paul had done, including one with Mary Ford with them doing “Song in Blue”. (Comment #21 by David Goetz asked about that song.) It also showed quite a bit of footage from the first performance on that college tour in ’75 including a performance of his first single “Lover”! My tape of that show is all but worn out from repeated watching plus the audio was never that great to begin with because VHS was not HI-FI in those days. If it is available on DVD I would appreciate it if someone would let me know what company put it out. I can’t find it on EBAY and it’s never come up in web searches. Again, Ed, thanks for a great article and site!

  • Earl MIlls

    I was the drummer for a group called Tommy Cashwell and The Creations in 1966. Our bass
    player was Les Paul’s oldest son. We were
    working in Greenbrook NJ and Les came to visit
    his son. We fortunate enough to have him sit in
    with the band. One of my memorable nights. Keep
    on pickin’ Les.

  • http://DickFrakes DICK FRAKES

    I was born in 1937 – so grew up listening to Les Paul & Mary Ford. I Would really like to here more about Mary Ford too. After all she was a beautiful singer and during the fifties the both of them were looked at as one. (duet) I know they were divorced and life goes on. However; I feel she had a little to do with his popularity. (especially during the fifties. Eventho he is a big time legend in his own right. So maby a little about Mary Ford. Where she came from. How they met. What caused the seperation. What caused her death etc.

    Mansfield, Texas

  • Eric Takacs

    Does anyone know where I can buy/obtain a copy of the best TV commercial of all time featuring Les Paul. I believe it was a Coors commercial and featured a young kid struggling to play his LP. LP asked if he could play his guitar for a minute and proceeded to play some mind blowing licks, which prompted the kid to mention he plays pretty good, and asked his name, to which LP handed him his guitar back, and cooley saud “it’s on your guitar” THANKS!

  • Del Casher

    I was very fortunate to meet Les and have my picture taken by Mary Ford in 1953 when I was 15 years old in their dressing room at the Chicago Theater. I had been playing guitar for two years and was thrilled meeting him. He was incredible on stage and made me determined to make my life in music. Mary was so kind to ask if I would like to have the picture taken using her new Polaroid camera. This allowed her to develop the photo and have Les autograph it. That photo is now in several publications.
    Later after coming to Califonia to a sucessful music career performing with Elvis in Roustabout at Paramount Pictures and apprearing on the Larence welk Show, Les would visit my studio and home for dinner.
    Les is a great guy with a great sense of humor. My wife and I have always enjoyed having him visit us at our home.
    I’m glad that so many people have been blessed by the inspiration that Les has given to all of us.
    Vintage Guitar Magazine was generous to have my story told in the same issue along with Les’ interview in 1997.

    Thank you Les for the inspiration you have given to all of us. I have enjoyed a wonderful life as a top guitarist, producer and composer.

  • http://ryanjohnson ryan johnson

    can i have one?

  • http://www.jodisextras.com jodis extras

    I have a signed Less Paul guitar that he used to play in concert.. He gave it to my friend and he flew him around as his pilot years ago… The owner wants to sell the guitar…

  • chris anderson

    I have pictures of Les with my grandfather and David Brinkley and Chet Huntley on the opening of his first recording studio. My grandpa was I guess from what he had talked about it alot they were close friends . His name was Raymond Sollars. He had won the purlitzer prize for communications. I am trying to put together in our family album some pictures of them together I have a couple and also a tape they had recorded together. My grandpa ray passed away 6 years ago. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

  • Bert Morrien

    To Willy Van den Berghe
    in reply to msg 59

    Back in 1947 I had a 78 rpm record with Delicado played by Les Paul, hence there should be no doubt about the existence of this recording.
    I am pretty sure it was from Capotol.
    It hasn’t survived, and I went to great lengths to get it again, without result so far.
    (I obtained Delicado played by another artist on an acoustical guitar and that’s not bad either.)

  • Willy Van den Berghe

    Thank You , Bert #87
    I won’t say you are wrong because “You never know “.
    In any case

    I’ve never heard of such a recording by Les and I wonder that Delicado was already “composed” in the 40’s because it’s a song which only became popular in the 50’s , but as I said “You never know”
    Thanks anyway , it gives me something to do ,that is , try and find it.
    Sorry ,for my English

    Willy ,Connolly West Australia

  • Willy Van den Berghe

    Dear Bert
    The song “Delicado” was first published in 1952 so it is hard to believe that Les already made a recording of the song in 1947.
    Nevertheless “You never know”
    Willy

  • Bert Morrien

    To Willy (#88, #89)

    Hello Willy,
    I might be off a few years, since it was such a long time ago.
    I know the Percy Faith version of Delicado and I am sure the version of Les Paul did not include a harpsicord, nor violins, drums or wind-instruments, only 100% Les Paul electrical guitar.
    The acoustical guitar version I mentioned is at
    http://home.hccnet.nl/b.morrien/LC-delicado.mp3
    (I downloaded it in 2002 maybe from http://luiscastro.iuma.com, but that link is dead now.)

  • Willy Van den Berghe

    Thank You , Bert
    Any idea what
    was on the flip side of Delicado ?
    P.S. Still have doubts about “it” but…..
    ‘Doubts” ? Let’s say for 99% sure it doesn’t excist .On second thought make that 99.99%
    Unless there is a “white label ” record of that title ever produced but certainly never released commercially on Capitol.
    I remember that I ever asked Les whether or not he recorded “have I told you lately that I love you” because I heard it over the radio but he assured me that he never did . So it must have been someone else who sounded like him.
    I was corresonding with Les from beginning of the 50’s (as I founded the Les and Mary Fan club in Belgium ) so I can assure you that I followed his (their)career very close
    but as I said before “You never know”

  • Bert Morrien

    Thanks Willy,
    I had at least 2 records of LP & MF and I believe they contained the following titles:”Delicado”, “How high the moon”, “The world is waiting for the sunshine” and “Whispering”, the latter 3 are identcal to those I obtained later. So, contrary to you, I have no single reason to believe that Delicado was not included and I think that Hans Busch (#45) agrees.
    Maybe you can imagine what Les Paul would do with Delicado and realize what an unforgettable impression it would make.
    The clavichord in the Percy Faith version lacks the nuances in pitch and volume that added to the richness of the guitar in the Les Paul version and I don’t even like some other passages in the PF version.
    I got the records from my elder brother to play on my home-built recordplayer, driven by a bike dynamo. That must have been around 1954 when I was 13 years old. I remember my brother playing records in a house that we left in 1947, that’s why I first thought I had them in that year.
    In retrospect, I am not sure of the Capitol label.
    Please, keep looking if you have access to promising resources.
    Regards, Bert.

  • Willy Van den Berghe

    Will someone please step forward and “clear things up” on #34-#45-#46-#58-#59-#60-#70-71-72-and 87 ’till 92
    Thank you !!!!

  • Ernest Lee

    Have read through many (not all) of the comments. For those that want more of Les Paul and Mary Ford, there is a series of radio show broadcasts ( look on the internet for ‘Les Paul OTR’) from 1950. All are about 15 minutes in length. All that I have listened to have a bit of light-hearted humor between Les and Mary.

  • Amy

    I’m looking for what might be a song by Les Paul, in the 50’s. My husband’s Dad died the other day, and he says he remembers singing a song to him, Oh my Papa, How I love you, or something….Was wondering if its the “I love you , oh so much”, but I can’t find the lyrics, etc. Anyone?

  • Willy Van den Berghe

    Reply Comment #95

    It couldn’t have been “I love You , Oh so Much ” because that is a purely Instrumental song by Les.
    No wonder ,You can’t find the lyrics
    I have no idea what Les and Mary song has the words “Oh my Papa , How I love you ” in itThe only “oh ,my Papa ‘ I know of is by a.o. Eddie Fisher or Eddie Calvert (the latter also an Instrumental)

  • http://www.guitaristlespaul.homestead.com Charles Dzuba

    Great site for Les Paul questions and comments. I AM JEALOUS! My Les Paul website should be so lucky. As a personal friend of Lester’s (talk to him at least once a month) for the past 12 years, up-dating his bio, compiling an annual photo/fan mail etc. album for him as well as publisher of the “Les Paul at Iridium Fan Club” newsletter for 10 years, I must admit the questions posed by Les’ fans on this site show great insight as well as a great love for and interest in the man. I will definitely let Les know of this site. By the way, his name was Polsfuss, later his mother dropped the first “s.” He still gives two shows at Iridium Jazz Club in New York City every monday night, still lives in Mahwah, NJ., the Coor’s beer commercial was written by Paul Wolfe, and Les’ oldest son is Lester George (Rusty). Les’ other children are Gene, Mary Colleen and Robert (Bobby). As Les says to guitarists, “Keep Pickin’ and I say, “Keep those great questions going.” Never forget Les.
    Thank you

  • Willy Van den Berghe

    Reply #97
    Dear Charles
    If you talk to Les once-a-month you are (might be) the right man in the right place to solve ,for once and for all , the “Delicado” question (see comment # 93)
    Just ask “the man” himself !
    Thank you….and give him my regards.
    Willy Van den Berghe
    Founder of the Belgian Les and Mary Fan club

  • Paul E Cresseveur

    We just came home from a Vince Gill show at the State in Easton, Pa and Les Paul was playing with Vince’s band, we wre surprised to see him there! He look’s like the man in the picture on this site, I was doing a serch just to find out how old he was as I remember him from when I was a kid.

  • Morgan

    Hey LP fans! I love both the Chester & Lester and Guitar Monsters collections, especially the banter. I have a 1955 Gibson LP w/Alnico pickups, often called the Black Beauty or Fretless Wonder. It’s in EXCELLENT condition according to many experts who’ve seen it. Anyone have any idea what those are selling for these days? Play on, Master Les!

  • http://www.guitaristlespaul.homestead.com Charles Dzuba

    To Willy Van den Berghe;
    I haven’t been able to talk to Les since my last message but will try again (today)12 April 2007. I did ask (also today)his rhythm guitarist, Lou Pallo if Les ever recorded “Delicado.” Lou said ,”No.” Lou has been with Les over 30 years. Longer than Mary Ford (or anyone else for that matter). I also asked Les’ friend guitarist Al Caiola who is Steve Lawrence and Edie Gormet’s guitarist (recorded “Bonanza” and “Magnificent Seven” etc…)and he said the best recording was by Percy Faith Orchestra and he also believed Les never recorded it.
    I will definitely remind Les of you and your “Les and Mary Fan Club” in the beautiful country of Belgium. I’ve been to Brugge in 2002. Food (Belgian Waffles, of course and seafood). Sights, including Queen Astrid’s park were terrific. Even purchased a river watercolor scene. Might go back this year in September-who knows?
    Charlie Dzuba

  • Amanda Ellila

    Can anyone help me to locate a recording that my mother used to have? It was a B side and was a vocal called “Amokariki” excuse spelling, but that is what it sounded like. I can’t find it on any CDs on Amazon.

  • http://www.guitaristlespaul.homestead.com Charles Dzuba

    Les and Mary recorded 4 versions of “Amukiriki.” One should be on the rare “Legend and Legacy” box set cassette and CD. The recording are about 3 minutes in length.

  • http://www.guitaristlespaul.homestead.com Charles Dzuba

    #98 To Willy Van den Berghe;
    I saw Les last night (May 7) at Iridium Jazz Club in NYC. I gave him your regards and he said, “Tell Willy I said hello.” He said he seems to remember your fan club but it was so long ago that he doesn’t remember the particulars. Letters to him can be sent to me at [Personal contact info deleted] my name and address on the Iridium Jazz Club website on the bio page I wrote for Les. Also Les said he never recorded “Delicado.” By the way, the show charge is $40 and well worth it.

  • Willy Van den Berghe

    Reply #101 & # 104
    Dear Charles
    Thank You for your “trouble” getting things straight on Delicado
    As I mentioned before I was 99’99% sure Les never recorded the song but one never knows. Glad it’s all sorted out.
    As for Brugge , I can only agree…beautiful city !Can recommend it to everyone . The more the merrier and good for the Belgian economy . After all , they (the government) have to look after my pension.
    I am living in Australia for the past 7 years Thanks again and I’ll keep an eye on your further comments
    Tell Les he hasn’t been out of my mind (thoughts) for the last 60 years (and that goes for Mary as well)
    Willy

  • Willy Van den Berghe

    Reply # 102
    Dear Amanda
    Besides on The Legend and the Legacy you should be able to find Amukiriki on
    Capitol 7 99119 2 Millions of Memories Track 14
    Rhino R31C 73039 Lil’Bit of Gold 3 Discs Released 1989
    Rajon CD 80023 Elite Fifties 5 Discs Disc 4 Track 16 Released 2003
    E.M.I 8 59972 2 Old Romantics Vol.2 Track 12 Released 1997
    The song ,backed with Magic melody , was released 30 October 1955 . It “charted” 12 November 1955 and reached # 38
    It was also released on a 45 Ext.Play “Songs of Today” Capitol EP 1-695 together with Song in Blue , Humming Bird and Magic Melody
    Les wrote me on January 2 , 1956
    …..also we did the background music for a movie titled “Amukiriki” , the theme music having the same title and was released on a record here . Perhaps it has already been released over there (Meaning Belgium)
    We did the opening for another movie , tune and picture having the same title “Texas Lady” I believe thet this picture will be released in Europe soon . This was also released on a record……
    Yours
    Les
    Hope this note will be of any use for you in finding “Amukiriki”
    Willy Connolly W.Australia

  • Willy Van den Berghe

    Correction # 106 “Amukiriki” should be (of course) “AmukUriki”( The Lord Willing)

  • Willy Van den Berghe

    Reply #102
    Dear Amanda
    Mea Culpa ,Mea Culpa , Mea Maxima Culpa
    in other words ” I AM SORRY ”
    In # 106 I have provided you with the wrong information . I took the numbers from my “Les Paul tracks on Various artists CD’s ” instead of the numbers from the Les & Mary CD’s . That means that the information I gave you was about “Nola””Tennessee Waltz ” “How High the……a.s.o You should be able to find “Amukiriki”(and NOT Amukuriki as I mentioned in # 107 (-A typing fault for which only I am responsible))besides on Disc 3 of The Legeend and the Legacy on one of the following CD’s
    The EP Collection Label See For Miles SEECD 724 Released 2001 in the U.K
    The Best of LP & MF a 3 CD-set in the Time/Life Series
    A Touch of Class Disky TC886302 Released 1998 Holland
    Blowin’ the Smoke Away from A Trail of Hits Jasmine JAS 3516
    I checked (and double-checked )this time .
    Especially the Jasmine ,Disky and See for Miles CD’s I come across on the internet , so I see no difficulties in obtaining a copy of one of them.
    Sorry for the misunderstanding in #106. I woke up last night around 2 am and felt there was something wrong so I sorted it out . That’s the trouble with me , I’m always over-enthousiastic when it has to do with Les and that makes me act before I think . Could it be that I’m a fan ???
    You , people in the U.S were lucky . You grew up watching Les and Mary on the TV but for us ,living in Europe “they”were only a photograph.Would you believe that I first saw Les actually playing the guitar was in 1992 .Before that “they” were only a photo on our mantelpiece (and they stayed as young as 40 years before)Only a couple of months ago I saw ,for the first time, Mary actually playing guitar with Les when a dear friend sent me a tape of their appearance in the Abbott & Costello show from 1954 (Thank You , Duane !!)(Not forgetting the Les & Mary at Home (Listerine)tape)I could go on for hours but my English isn’t 100% ,as you may have noticed .At night I made up the most beautiful sentences but here I sit with a case of writers block .
    Keep on going Les and ” Gruess Gott”
    Willy

  • Charlie Dzuba

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY – LES
    BORN JUNE 9, 1915 AND AT 92 STILL GROWING STRONG
    BIRTHDAY PARTY AT IRIDIUM TONIGHT (JUNE 11)

  • Charlie Dzuba

    Les Paul’s friend Jon Paris (Blues singer and harmonica player)sent this to me; National premier of “Chasing Sound” about Les Paul by American Masters will air on Wednesday July 11, 2007 at 9PM (Eastern Time) on PBS.
    Jon can be seen at B.B. King’s Lucille’s Bar & Grill at 7th and 42nd street NYC, on Monday nights. He usually stops by at Les’ late show.

  • http://www.rushisaband.com BOB

    Does Anyone Know If Alex Lifeson Of Canadian Power Rock Trio “RUSH” Using Les Paul Guitars On The New RUSH Album SNAKES AND ARROWS Tour?
    http://www.rushisaband.com
    http://www.2112.net
    Has Alex Lifeson Ever Met LES PAUL?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    Alex Lifeson always has his guitars custom made, NO plastic on any of his instruments, metal and wood only.

    Falcon guitars in New Jersey made a few for him, i met the guy a few times and got the info from him

    Excelsior?

  • Martin Bryk

    Answering Bob#111 -Quote from Alex Lifeson:”I may end up going exclusively Gibson for this tour.” (Snakes and Arrows) Alex says he used the old ES-335 for 60% of the new album but he is also using a beautiful LES PAUL Goldtop Reissue. Alex says that Geddy says,”You should only ever have a Les Paul in your hands.” -guitaronemag.com June 2007 issue of the magazine has Lifeson cover story(inside is great pics of Alex with goldtop LP).

  • http://www.lpstop.com Les Pauls

    Excellent article! Just watched the show on PBS. Les Paul is great.. the guitar and the man.

    Thanks!
    j

  • Bert Morrien

    Reply on #104:
    So I have to realize that Les Paul never recorded Delicado. That makes me wonder who played the one I am looking for, because I cannot find it in the rather big collection of Delicado recordings that I examined. But that’s another question.
    Nevertheless, I am very happy with the many other wonderful recordings that Les (and Mary) made!

  • alecia

    exellent article im doing an eminent persons project and i chose him as someone that has changed the world for the good!! :D ( i luv my Guitars! )

  • http://www.lpstop.com Les Pauls

    I just watched this show again… talk about an inspiring story! And.. man did he have the chops back in the day. Very unusual to see someone so musically talented, and successful… and have the desire to invent/build things. Makes me realize, I should be doing ALOT more.

    J

  • william.

    Can someone tell me what echo machine les uses on stage?
    Love the man!!william.

  • Charlie Dzuba

    Response to #114 & #117 (“Chasing Sound);
    Saw Les at the Iridium on Sept. 3, 2007. Gave me his DVD “Chasing Sound.” It’s 90 minutes long which is an additional 30 plus minutes more than shown on PBS. I understand the DVD can be had from $11.00 to $35.00.
    Response to #118 (Machine(s) Les uses on stage at the Iridium); as of the above date Les uses; Digital Delay, Reverb, Tremelo – Boss, a Boss Tuner and Chorus. I got this information from Chris Lentz (www.rubarbred.com and http://www.redhotred.com.)
    Chris is Les’ “all-around man.” He is Les’ videographer, photographer, and assists Les’ in the “Green Room” as well as “on the road.”
    Les still looks and plays well even with a severe case of osteoarthritis.

  • Danny Daughtry

    To Bert Morrison
    The artists that recorded Delicado were Ray Anthony, Marion Brown, Jimmy Dorsey, Percy Faith, Woody Herman, Michel LeGrand, Edmond Ros And Dinah Shore.
    Long live Les Paul. I am a big fan of his.

  • Louie Seven

    I have read all these comments and enjoyed same.
    Les played at the Great American Music Hall in August of 1975. We had seats at the front table, and I recorded both shows on audio tape. Les gave me his pick at the end of the program. His son Bobby played drums and Les demonstrated the Les Paulverizer. This was one of the first shows he did after coming out of semi-retirement and was probably not much different from the shows he was doing before he went into semi-retirement. That is to say, he didn’t make any changes in the pre-recorded accompanyment – Bing’s Voice – etc.

    Les Paul is the greatest electric guitarist that ever lived. By that, I refer to his flawless timing, his flawless taste, and his flawless execution of flawless material.

    Do I seem biased ?

    Regards,

    Louie Seven

  • Doris Leister

    I am told that Les Paul is in our family tree and would like to verify this. If someone in his family is into geneology could they check this out? The names that might match are Boser, Ellenbecker, Odenbrett, Mauritz, Ewan, Neuenfeldt, Dressl. Thanks Doris Ellenbecker Leister

  • Nick

    During the 70’s I worked for Mario Maccaferri (Django Reinhardt’s Selmer/Maccaferri Luthier) not as a musician or luthier, but as an engineer for Mr.Maccaferri’s plastic molding business. Mr.M
    was an excellent classical guitarist as well. He called me down to his office stating that he had a treat for me. When I walked in, there was Les Paul. The two had been longtime friends probably due to Les’ admiration of Django. Any way it was a great experience to be in the room while the two talked music, guitars, guitars and more guitars. Mario made the mistake of telling Les that I played guitar. So Les said “Play something Nick” I said “Mr Paul I only love guitars but love alone does not a player make” He laughed and was very complimentary to my inept guitar skills. It was an experience I will always treasure.
    Several years later my son Frank visited the Iridium and was stopped by stage hands back stage when trying to get Les’ autograph. Les was in ear shot when Frank stated that his dad worked for Mr.Maccaferri and asked him to get Les’ autograph. Les came out and said he remembered the visit and gave Frank an autograph and a photo.
    There have been many Geniuses, but few have as big a heart as L.P.

  • http://comcast.net Jag

    Saw Les Paul at the Iridium on New Year’s Eve (last night). Enjoyed the show..definitely recommend it.

  • http://hubpages.com/hub/The-Gibson-Les-Paul-Guitar Vinnie Gibson

    What a great article. Even now years after you wrote it. If you don’t mind I am going to link to it from My hbpage on Les Paul Guitars it gives a more rounded understanding to our Guitar culture.

  • shiva mudliar

    you rock dude

  • Willy Van den Berghe

    Reply on # 115
    Dear Bert
    Maybe this may solve your problem with the recording of Delicado in the 50’s
    Go here where you can download and listen to Delicado with guitar solo by Jorgen Ingman as I already “told” you in my comment # 60 (May 2005)Maybe that’s the one your looking for And Les Paul fans …..what’s keeping you ? Only 3 comments in the first 4 months of 2008 ?????You can do better than that !!!!!
    Greetings from ‘Down under ”
    Willy

  • Anthony Black

    My dad always believed that the Les Paul guitar was the highest standard of quality that an elecrric guitar could be measured by. Needless to say he and I have always been great fans of Les. Dad died several years ago and left me his 1952 Les Paul. Does anyone know if I would stand a snowball’s chance of getting Les to autograph it. Is he still playing in New York? I have no plans of letting the guitar leave the family, but I know my dad would be extreemly proud to know that Les Paul himself signed it or played it.
    Any insight would be greatly apreciated.
    thanks,
    ab

  • http://eddriscoll.com/weblog.php Ed Driscoll

    Hi Anthony,

    As was the case six (!) years ago when I wrote this article, Les is still playing two shows every Monday night at the Iridium Club in New York.

    To the best of my knowledge, he still signs autographs at the end of his second show, and he’ll sign virtually anything. For example, many a Les Paul guitar on eBay with an autographed pickguard got that way because a player took that pickguard to the Iridium for Les to autograph it.

    So I’d check with the Iridium to make sure it’s still the second show that Les signs autographs, and then make a beeline to Manhattan.

    Ed

  • Joel Brennan

    Hi all –

    I am the CEO of a Science and Technology Museum in Milwaukee, WI. You may be aware that Les was born about 15 miles from Milwaukee in Waukesha. Well, we put together a stunning exhibit using some of Les’ personal collection of guitars, sound equipment and other innovations. We also had some great loans from the Rock Hall and other regular folks to round out the collection.

    We just opened the exhibit at the end of June, and it will be up for at least 6 months until the end of the year (could be longer). Come and take a look.

    Here is some information about Les and the exhibit from the opening. He came for the unveiling and to play a concert at our Pabst Theater in Milwaukee. Read on and enjoy.

    If you want to learn more about the exhibit and how to get here.

    We are proud to honor Les Paul and look forward to sharing this exhibit with his fans!

    Joel Brennan

  • Dave Hoffman

    To all,

    I am with an organization called Guitars not Guns please check us out! Our mission is to take guns out of childrens hands and replace them with musical instruments.

    I have been tirelessly trying to contact Mr. Paul to try and get him behind us, possibly as a spokesperson. We are all volunteer music teachers and this project is so important, especially in big cities where crime is rampant! If ANYONE knows how to contact Mr. Paul, please, pass this on to him, or send me an agents E mail address. I can be contacted at guitarsnotguns.com or [Personal contact info deleted]

    Thanks so much!

    Dave Hoffman

  • Charlie Dzuba

    To Ed Driscoll;

    I’ve posted a few comments (#97,101,103,104,109,110 and 119) on your site and stated that it is the best website for Les Paul fans – period.
    My question is; Would you consider putting the “comments” in reverse chronological order so we don’t have to scroll all the way down to view the last comment? Thank you

  • brad pitt

    LES PAUL IS THE GREATEST

  • john hamilton

    When I was five years old, I heard “The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise” by Les Paul & Mary Ford. That was 50 years ago, and I’ve been hooked on Les Paul ever since! I’ve been fortunate enough to have met Les,and to have seen him play “live” twice in my life. The first time in 1976 in Oklahoma City, and then in New York City in 1992. Les is a true guitar hero, a great entertainer, and one hell of a guitarist. Anyone who plays the electric guitar should listen to Les Paul’s recordings, especially the ones with Mary Ford from the 1950’s. The sound of Les’ guitar on those records is fabulous, and still sounds fresh today in 2009!

  • Luke Easter

    Les Paul (In Memorial) 1915-2009

    This looks like just another ho-hum year but wait,
    6/9/15 has produced a talent, unparalleled & great,
    How come? Many births this month and year so far,
    Delivered today was the father of the electric guitar.

    Big band, jazz, rhythm & blues, classical, rock & roll,
    6 strings was never before blessed with so much soul,
    Oh yeah, with music so unique and full of life that’s all,
    Simply a sound unlike any other thanks Mr. Les Paul.

    A guitar is the heartbeat, oh yeah, leader of the band,
    Rhythm, orchestra, gently cradled by woman or man,
    Showcased in front, Hendrix, Clapton, Vaughn, King,
    Ellis in the background, Rait and others make it sing.

    Benson, Montgomery, where to begin, where to stop?
    Cray, Perry, Prince, Slash & Van Halen, made it pop,
    All the way to 94 even Les himself could carry a tune,
    His passing only means showtime is now on the moon.

    Hey! Trillions of stars will sway to the masterful beat,
    While planets rotate in harmony and stomp their feet,
    There are two Creators in heaven, The Original & Les,
    Angels are happy they’ll be getting lessons from the best.

    A legacy to be left wherever music is played then heard,
    Many have even taken the task, skillfully adding words,
    Radio, MP3, ipod, record player, studio, stereo in the car,
    Can’t imagine how any would sound w/o an electric guitar.

    © 2009 by Luke Easter

  • Willy Van den Berghe

    Thank you Les
    AMEN

  • Jim Evans

    I am a retired disc jockey and radio personality. I was a close personal friend of Les Paul. Much of the statements in this article, innocent though they seem, are, in fact, false. I have written a 600+-page book releasing the truth about this wonderful guitarist. His life was filled with prevarication, which I have carefully screened and exposed. The book will come out early next year. [Personal contact info deleted]

    Cordially,
    Jim Evans

  • Bert Morrien

    Around 1955 my brother gave me two 78 rpm records featuring Les Paul & Mary Ford. We, my brother, my sister and I, are sure that these records featured the following titles: “Whispering”, “The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise”, “How High The Moon” and “Delicado”. The latter is the one composed by Waldyr Azevedo, but it is possible that Les Paul gave his arrangement another title.
    I have lost the original records, but the strange thing is, that I cannot find any trace of Les Paul’s version of “Delicado”, some people even insist that Les Paul never recorded it.
    As far as I know, the mentioned records were brought here by my father from Ireland, but I cannot remember the label.
    Les Paul was one of a kind and every time I hear him, he touches me, even after all these years.
    I wonder if I will ever hear his “Delicado” again, I can still remember every note of it.