Les Paul Has Left The Studio


lespaulAs a music lover and a guitarist myself (albeit a lousy one), I was deeply saddened when the great Les Paul passed away recently. Not only a brilliant musician, he also invented multi-track recording and the solid body guitar, both staples on modern music and production.

One thing I was unaware of was his long association with radio. David Hinckly at the New York Daily News shares some of that background in a column he did about New York DJs paying tribute to the musical icon.

Changing the music, of course, meant changing radio. But Paul’s radio connection wasn’t just incidental.

He started on radio as a teenager in the 1930s, playing country music as Rhubarb Red and jazz/blues as Les Paul. He played with everyone from Nat King Cole and Illinois Jacquet to Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians to Bing Crosby. In the service during World War II, he played on countless Armed Forces Radio broadcasts and cut a whole stream of V-Discs – music shipped overseas for the troops.

[…] and he continued as a friend to radio, appearing regularly with hosts like Joey Reynolds of WOR (710 AM).

He also performed with Django Reinhardt.

Here is a roughly two minute video of Les Paul and Mary Ford playing in a Listerine-sponsored TV appearance back in the 1950s to give you an example of his art.

Of course it makes perfect sense, you don’t think of radio because it is always there. Oh, what I would have given to sit in on one of those radio performances! Having seen him play at The Knitting Factory in New York City, I can only imagine the intimacy of sharing a room with just him and a microphone. Anyone who has ever run a mixing baord, be it in a radio studio, a club or at a festival owes a great debt to Les Paul. He revolutionized the way we perform and record audio in a way that has influenced every aspect of the music industry.

To close, I would like to point you towards a video in which guitar legends Joe Satriani and Slash from Guns N’ Roses share their remembrances of this titan of the music world.

Image: johnnygizmo / CC BY-SA 2.0

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