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Les Paul remembered as music visionary 100 years on

Les Paul remembered as music visionary 100 years on

A foundation dedicated in his legacy set up a mini-museum for the day in New York’s Times Square with a tribute concert in the evening.



By (AFP)

Published: Thu 11 Jun 2015, 9:16 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 2:46 PM

Braunstein, Executive Director of the Les Paul Foundation presents the proclamation declaring  ‘Les Paul Appreciation day’ to Neal Schon of rock band Journey

ASKED TO NAME music superstars, few in the general public would immediately think of Les Paul. But 100 years after his birth, his many admirers are hoping to promote him as one of modern music’s indispensable figures.

Paul, who died in 2009, was an acclaimed jazz guitarist as well as a prolific inventor. He paved the way for the rock era by pioneering the electric guitar and revolutionised how artists record music.

On what would have been his 100th birthday on Tuesday, a foundation dedicated in his legacy set up a mini-museum for the day in New York’s Times Square with a tribute concert in the evening.

“We’re reintroducing Les. We sometimes joke around that Les is the most famous person nobody knows,” said Michael Braunstein, the executive director of the Les Paul Foundation.

“When you ask children, or a certain generation, they think Les Paul is (only) a guitar,” he said, referring to the Gibson instruments that bear his name.

Braunstein — who, along with his grandfather and father, served successively as Paul’s manager — argued that the guitarist’s impact was unique for its wide scope.

“We argue that Les is the most influential and important individual in the music industry ever,” Braunstein said.

Even if one does not rank Paul using such superlative terms, he is the only person enshrined in both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Paul’s key innovation as a luthier was to create a solid-body electric guitar.

Unlike an acoustic guitar, whose hollow body let the sound reverberate, the solid instrument sustained the plucking of the strings — which could then be amplified.

“I want sounds that have never been heard on Earth. I want new sounds,” Paul said in a quotation on the exhibition wall.

“Every guitar player should think about him every time they go and plug into an amplifier, that if it was not for Les, there wouldn’t be that,” said Neal Schon, guitarist of classic rock band Journey.

“He was so vibrant and full of positive energy,” guitarist Slash of Guns ‘n’ Roses fame wrote in the exhibit, calling Paul “a shining example of how full one’s life can be.” 

 


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