R.I.P. Les Paul

Sparks Of Insanity By Vinny "Bond" Marini Friday, August 14, 2009

Today - a new post:
Olive Garden Chicken Crostini
Come take a seat at the table

Received an email from good friend STARR from "Here Comes A Girl In The Form Of A Storm" yesterday around noon that simply had in the subject line, “2009 is a nasty year so far”. And right behind it my friend JULIE of "Julies's Jewels & Junque" sent an email informing me of this fact also…Ah my friends know if it is about music, I must be informed.

The email From Starr contained a link and when I clicked it I found sad news. Lester William Polsfuss passed away on Wednesday evening.

Never heard the name? Well, you definitely know him by his ‘stage’ name, Les Paul.

Les Paul
June 9, 1915 – August 13, 2009

The genius behind the electric guitar and technological advances such as electronic echo and multi-tracking recording was 94. The cause of death was respiratory failure, and according to a statement from Gibson Guitars, Paul was suffering from severe pneumonia and died at a hospital in White Plains, New York.

Mr. Paul was an inductee of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Grammy Hall of Fame, Mr. Paul was also an incredibly talented guitarist and with singer Mary Ford, his wife until 1964, had a successful recording career. In the early ’50s, Paul and Ford had a string of hits including "Mockin’ Bird Hill,” “How High the Moon,” “The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise” and “Vaya Con Dios.”

Paul first became interested in music at the age of eight, when he began playing the harmonica. After an attempt at learning to play the banjo, he began to play the guitar. By 13, Paul was performing semi-professionally as a country-music guitarist. At the age of 17, Paul played with Rube Tronson's Texas Cowboys, and soon after he dropped out of high school to join Wolverton's Radio Band in St. Louis, Missouri on KMOX.

In January 1948, Paul was injured in a near-fatal automobile accident in Oklahoma, which shattered his right arm and elbow. Doctors told Paul that there was no way for them to rebuild his elbow in a way that would let him regain movement, and that his arm would remain permanently in whatever position they placed it in. Paul then instructed the surgeons to set his arm at an angle that would allow him to cradle and pick the guitar. It took him a year and a half to recover.

When we played MIDWEEK MUSIC MEME here on The Couch, we featured Mr. Paul and Ms. Ford one week. You can find that post HERE.

And one Thursday, for Thursday 13 we featured Mr. Paul's ‘babies’ and the response from the female guests here on The Couch was overwhelming. Find that post HERE (I did have to go back and reformat that post so it would be viewable to those of you who click the link.)

Strangely enough, just the other day I had decided to do a WAY BACK MACHINE post today and that post was going to be the Les Paul Thursday 13…Kind of gave me the willies when I realized I would be doing a Les Paul post, but one to honor the man and announce his passing, not his guitars.

In 2003, Rolling Stone named Les Paul to their list of the Greatest Guitarists of All Time, and his influence on guitar greats who followed him is undeniable. “He was one of the most stellar human beings I’ve ever known,” Slash posted on his Twitter yesterday, referring to Paul as his “friend and mentor.” Chickenfoot guitarist Joe Satriani released a statement that reads, “Les Paul set a standard for musicianship and innovation that remains unsurpassed. He was the original guitar hero, and the kindest of souls.”

For his achievements as a technician, Mr. Paul was also inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2005, joining Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla.

Les Paul was an Honorary Board Member for Little Kids Rock, a nonprofit dedicated to bringing free musical instruments and music instruction to under-served schools across the country.

Paul was the godfather of rock guitarist Steve Miller of the Steve Miller Band, to whom Paul gave his first guitar lesson.

Paul was born in Waukesha, Wisconsin in 1915, a fact noted in the name of the 1980 Les Paul documentary "The Wizard of Waukesha".

Last November, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame honored Paul with its annual American Music Masters Concert, where Slash, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, Richie Sambora and the Patti Smith Group’s Lenny Kaye paid tribute to Paul. Kaye told the audience, “Before Les, guitars were only amplified. Les made them truly electric.”

During his acceptance speech, Paul joked, “Everybody thought I was a guitar until I played here tonight.” One thing is for certain: Les Paul is responsible for changing the way rock & roll sounds and he will be greatly missed.

Until just recently, Mr. Paul would perform every Monday night, accompanied by a trio which included guitarist Lou Pallo, bassist Nicki Parrott and pianist John Colianni, at the Iridium Jazz Club on Broadway in New York City.

Mr. Paul’s website can be found HERE

Yes, Starr, 2009 has been a nasty year for us here on earth, but that jam band in heaven is rocking out BIG TIME!

Two from Mr. Paul and Ms. Ford..."Vaya Con Dios" and "Hummingbird"...

17 Of Your Sparks

  1. When I saw the headline of his passing, I thought immediately of you and then Ann. I knew each of you would honor his contribution in your own ways. We lost a giant fersure.

  2. DrillerAA09 Says:
  3. I remember hearing Les Paul and Mary Ford on the radio when I was just a child. It is hard to imagine the recording industry without his inventions. Les Paul was truly a genius.

  4. A fitting tribute to the father of the electric guitar, and so much more. I learned a great deal more today. Thanks!

  5. Bond Says:
  6. SONGBIRD: We did lose another great.

    DRILLERAA: The industry would be MUCH different

    BUD: Thanks for coming by

  7. Dianne Says:
  8. I didn't know all this about him, thanks for such a full and fitting tribute

    peaceful journey Les Paul

  9. Mags Says:
  10. I've just updated my blogroll & I included Mangia Y'all. It'll help me get there more often!

  11. Mags Says:
  12. I've just updated my blogroll & I included Mangia Y'all. It'll help me get there more often!

  13. katherine. Says:
  14. I surfed here first this morning...KNOWING you would tribute Les Paul. The level of his contribution to music is apparent by the number of posts you have already given us.

    Interesting that you were preparing a post prior to his death....hmmmm...makes me wonder who ELSE you are getting ready to write about...

    I had no idea there was an Inventors Hall of Fame.

    thanks again Vinny. I know Les Paul's passing will come up this weekend...and I will be well prepared...smile.

  15. Anonymous Says:
  16. You did him justice in your tribute. RIP Me. Polsfuss.

  17. ...as always,an insightful and informative piece...with music!...thank you, sir...

  18. Starrlight Says:
  19. I KNEW you would be the one to really due Les justice with a tribute post. And you did.

    God bless the man for what he contributed to society. He truly put the Rock in Rock and Roll.

    PS - You are right about the band in Heaven as well. Hope they are all rocking out up there.

  20. Bond Says:
  21. DIANNE: Glad I could give oyu some knowledge

    MAGS: Looking forward to your visits

    KATHERINE: LOL...yup a rock star dies and I get a post out of it! But seriously...the one planned was a WayBack Machine repeat so i could take a day off! Glad to give you some info ...

    IMD5590: Why thank you Come back and sit on The Couch anytime

    PHFRANKIE: Thank you Sir

    STARRLIGHT: the love of the music compels me to honor those who go before us...OH Les and Duane are going back and forth on their Starburst Pauls...

  22. JohnH985 Says:
  23. Very well done sir.

  24. Travis Says:
  25. Well done. I considered doing a tribute to Mr Paul, but I knew you'd do it better than I could.

  26. Tug Says:
  27. Wonderful tribute post, as always coming from you.

    Sad day indeed.....

  28. Mimi Lenox Says:
  29. Fantastic tribute. I would love to hear that band cranking up on Cloud Nine about now. Wouldn't you?

  30. What an amazing man he was. Who knows where music would be today without his creations.

    Well done, Bond.


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