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Les Paul- Inventor


Les Paul- a pioneer in audio


"I knew from the beginning that there was a great marriage between electronics and music," says Les Paul. "I'd play my guitar and my mother or my brother would tell me how good it sounded, but I wanted to hear it, and the only way that could happen was if I could hear it played back. So I built a crank phonograph and turned it into a recording device like Edison had — without even knowing who Edison was. The electronics were all in my living room. In addition to the phonograph I had a player piano, a telephone and a radio. I took the telephone apart at the receiver end, and when I looked at it I figured that the two coils were humbucking and quickly understood what the receiver was doing. Then I looked at the mouthpiece and worked out what that was doing. It was all right there in the living room. I never had to leave it — and I didn't!"

A longstanding member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, as well as an inductee into the Inventors' Hall of Fame (alongside such esteemed company as Benjamin Franklin, the Wright Brothers and Alexander Graham Bell), Les Paul is one of the authors of modern music; a man who was at the forefront of guitar amplification, pioneered the technology of multitrack recording, and who, at the age of 91, still performs weekly sell-out gigs at New York's Iridium Jazz Club — playing the electric guitars that have carried his name since he first invented them in the 1940s and teamed with Gibson to perfect and manufacture them in the 1950s.

Born Lester Polsfuss in Waukesha, Wisconsin, in 1915 — his mother would later change the family name to Paul — Les was dimantling radios and telephones at the age of seven, and by the time he was 13 he was performing cowboy songs in local venues, billing himself as Red Hot Red. The telephone and radio were used to fashion a PA system, and his guitar was amplified by wedging a Victrola needle under the strings and plugging the instrument into another radio as well as the remains of the phone. Eventually, Red Hot Red evolved into Rhubarb Red, and the penchant for country material was superseded by a love of jazz that led him to Chicago in the mid-1930s, where he performed as Les Paul.

Les's first two records were released in 1936 — one under the Rhubarb Red moniker and the second as part of the backing band for Georgia White.

After forming a trio with rhythm guitarist Jimmy Atkins and bass player Ernie Newton, Les relocated to New York and joined Fred Waring's Pennsylvanians, while gaining widespread exposure via the radio and even performing at the White House for President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Moving to Los Angeles in 1943, he formed a new trio and was soon accompanying Bing Crosby on radio and record, topping the charts with 'It's Been a Long, Long Time'. There were also assignments with such major artists as Judy Garland and the Andrews Sisters, and while he and his Trio had a string of discs issued by Decca between 1944 and 1947 Les also found the time to immerse himself in technological innovations that would forever change the face of recording.


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