Born Lester William Polfuss in Waukesha, Wisconsin in 1915, Les Paul had a successful career as a musician and producer but it was his work as an inventor that has had the greatest impact on the world of music.
Paul began his career as a jazz musician. Unhappy with the volume his acoustic guitar provided, he began tinkering with the instrument. Those tinkerings led to the invention of the solid-body electric guitar, an instrument that forever changed rock and roll and music as a whole. In addition, Paul developed the technique that allowed musicians to record their parts of songs at different times, mixing them together later.
Consciously or not, music fans, writers, and bloggers are hearing and writing about Les Paul because his inventions led to changes in the way music was heard and recorded.
Gibson Guitars began manufacturing the Les Paul model in 1952, a model that continues to be manufactured today. Among prominent rockers who play Les Paul guitars are Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page, Guns N' Roses' Slash, and The Who's Pete Townshend. For younger generations, the kids may be learning to play the Les Paul model guitar in popular video games like Guitar Hero.
Paul retired from working as a musician in the late '60s to focus more on his inventions. In his later years, he returned to playing music at clubs on Monday nights in New York. Page, former Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler, Bruce Springsteen, and Eddie Van Halen were known to drop by to pay tribute to the legend and even sat in with him. Paul died in August 2009.