54 Facts About Les Paul


Lester William Polsfuss, known as Les Paul, was an American jazz, country, and blues guitarist, songwriter, luthier, and inventor.


Les Paul was one of the pioneers of the solid-body electric guitar, and his prototype, called the Log, served as inspiration for the Gibson Les Paul.


Les Paul is prominently named by the music museum on its website as an "architect" and a "key inductee" with Sam Phillips and Alan Freed.


Les Paul is the only inductee in both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the National Inventors Hall of Fame.


Les Paul's mother was related to the founders of Milwaukee's Valentin Blatz Brewing Company and the makers of the Stutz automobile.


Les Paul's mother simplified their Prussian family name first to Polfuss, then to Polfus, although Les Paul never legally changed his name.


At the age of eight, Les Paul began playing the harmonica.

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At age seventeen, Les Paul played with Rube Tronson's Texas Cowboys, and soon after he dropped out of high school to team up with Sunny Joe Wolverton's Radio Band in St Louis, Missouri, on KMOX.


Les Paul met pianist Art Tatum, whose playing influenced him to continue with the guitar rather than play jazz on the piano.


Les Paul served as an accompanist for other bands signed to Decca.


When Reinhardt died in 1953, Les Paul paid for part of the funeral's cost.


One of Les Paul's prized possessions was a Selmer acoustic guitar given to him by Reinhardt's widow.


Chet Atkins later wrote that his brother, home on a family visit, presented him with an expensive Gibson archtop guitar that Les Paul had given to Jim.


Les Paul was drafted into the US Army in 1943, where he served in the Armed Forces Radio Network, backing such artists as Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters, and performing in his own right.


Les Paul's solo on "Body and Soul" is a demonstration of his admiration for and emulation of Django Reinhardt, as well as his development of original lines.


Also that year, Les Paul's trio appeared on Bing Crosby's radio show.


Les Paul did everything he could to make us sound better.


In January 1948, Les Paul shattered his right arm and elbow among multiple injuries in a near-fatal automobile accident on an icy Route 66 west of Davenport, Oklahoma.


In 1940, Les Paul revisited his experiments with the train rail.


Les Paul approached the Gibson Guitar Corporation with his idea of a solid-body electric guitar in 1941, but Gibson showed no interest until Fender began marketing its Esquire and Broadcaster guitars in 1950.


Gibson entered into a promotional and financial arrangement with Les Paul, paying him a royalty on sales.


In 1960, sales of the original Les Paul model had dropped, so a more modernistic model was introduced, but then still bearing the Les Paul name.


This, and a pending divorce from Mary Ford, led to Les Paul ending his endorsement and use of his name on Gibson guitars from 1964 until 1966, by which time his divorce was completed.


Les Paul continued to suggest technical improvements, although they were not always successful commercially.


In 1962, Les Paul was issued, for a pickup in which the coil was integrated into the bridge.

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Unfortunately, Les Paul's guitar was so sensitive to the heat from stage lights that it would not keep tune.


Les Paul stunned the music industry with his New Sound in 1948.


Les Paul recorded several songs with Bing Crosby, most notably "It's Been a Long, Long Time," which was a number-one single in 1945.


Les Paul started his studio in the garage of his home on North Curson Street in Hollywood.


Les Paul's experiments included microphone placement, track speed, and recording overdubs.


Capitol Records released "Lover ", on which Les Paul played eight different parts on electric guitar, some recorded at half-speed, hence "double-fast" when played back at normal speed for the master.


Les Paul recorded a track onto a disk, then recorded himself playing another part with the first.


Les Paul built the multitrack recording with overlaid tracks rather than parallel ones as he did later.


Les Paul eventually enhanced this by using one tape machine to play back the original recording and a second to record the combined track.


In 1952, Les Paul invented the flange effect, where a sound phases in and out in harmonic tone.


Les Paul worked with Ross Snyder on the design of the first eight-track recording deck built for him by Ampex for his home studio.


Les Paul named the recorder "The Octopus" and the mixing console "The Monster".


The songs were recorded with multiple tracks where Ford harmonized with herself and Les Paul played multiple layers of guitars.


Paul hosted a 15-minute radio program, The Les Paul Show, on NBC Radio in 1950, featuring his trio and his electronics.


When Les Paul used magnetic tape, he could take his recording equipment on tour, making episodes for his fifteen-minute radio show in a hotel room.


Since Les Paul created the entire show himself, including audio and video, he maintained the original recordings and was in the process of restoring them to current quality standards until his death.


In 1965, Les Paul went into semi-retirement, although he did return to his studio occasionally.


Les Paul played the initial guitar track, and George Barnes laid down the additional tracks while Les Paul engineered in his home studio.


Les Paul recorded two albums, Chester and Lester and Guitar Monsters, for RCA Victor, comprising a meld of jazz and country improvisation with guitar virtuoso Chet Atkins, backed by some of Nashville's celebrated studio musicians.


In 1969 Les Paul produced the album Poe Through the Glass Prism for RCA.

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Les Paul performed every Monday night at Manhattan's Iridium Jazz Club with guitarist Lou Pallo, bassist Paul Nowinski, and guitarist Frank Vignola and for a few years, pianist John Colianni.


In 2000, a cover version of "Johnny" by Belgian musical group Vaya Con Dios that credited Les Paul prompted another action by the Romanian Musical Performing and Mechanical Rights Society.


The Les Paul Foundation inspires innovative and creative thinking by sharing the legacy of Les Paul through support of music education, recording, innovation, and medical research related to hearing.


Les Paul was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for his development of the solid-body electric guitar.


In 1983, Les Paul received a Grammy Trustees Award for lifetime achievement.


In 2009, Les Paul was named one of the top ten electric guitarists of all time by Time magazine.


On June 9,2015, a yearlong celebration of Paul's 100th birthday kicked off in Times Square with performances by musicians including Steve Miller, Jose Feliciano, and Neal Schon, a memorabilia exhibition, and a proclamation from the Les Paul Foundation declaring June 9 as Les Paul Day.


In 2007, the biographical film Les Paul Chasing Sound was aired on the public television series American Masters.


Les Paul played a concert in Milwaukee to coincide with the opening of the exhibit.