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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Goodbye Les!

The great musical and electronic innovator Les Paul passed on today at age 94.

Just off the top of my head, here are some of the inventions that he was responsible for:
  • The multi-track tape recorder
  • The now common practice of overdubbing (he was the first to figure out how and the first to utilize it)
  • The Gibson Les Paul model guitar (a must-have for every serious guitar player)
  • Close miking instruments (commonly used today on virtually every recording)
  • The Capitol Records label (he was one of the founders)
  • The unique round Capitol Records building (still a Hollywood landmark)
  • The famous Capitol studios echo chambers (arguably still the finest in the world)
That sure is a big impact from one person in a single lifetime. Many people make large contributions to an industry during their lives, but Les was different because what he did really changed the basic core of how we create and listen to music.

I met Les once at a party in a hotel room during an AES convention maybe 15 years ago. Funny guy, full of life, and loved the ladies even at his advanced age (late 70's) at the time. He was the center of the party and he loved every minute of it. I only wish that I would've had my picture taken with him (had the chance but it didn't happen for some unremembered reason).

Here's a little bit from Les' television show with his former wife, Mary Ford. Notice the multi-tracked guitars and vocals, which were way, way ahead of the time when the show was filmed (1954).

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