"Grammy Award–winning guitar virtuoso and inventor" Les Paul died on Thursday at the age of 94, said Adam Bernstein in The Washington Post. "He was an early designer of an electric guitar that had a solid body," and eventually his Les Paul line of guitars for the Gibson company "became commonplace among such musicians as bluesman Eric Clapton, jazzman Wes Montgomery, and rocker Pete Townshend." Paul said his main "goal" was to "change the way people saw the guitar"—and he succeeded. He also "played a key role in developing the eight-track tape recorder."
"Even as a child," said Todd Leopold in CNN.com, Lester William Polfuss "showed an aptitude for tinkering, taking apart electric appliances to see what made them tick." In the 1930s and '40s, Les Paul "played with the bandleader Fred Waring and several big band singers, including Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and the Andrews Sisters, as well as with his own Les Paul Trio." Then in the early '50s, he "had a handful of huge hits with his then-wife, Mary Ford, such as 'How High the Moon' and 'Vaya Con Dios.'"
Les Paul was showered with accolades, said Mark Feeney in The Boston Globe, and he deserved them all. He was inducted into both the Grammy Hall of Fame and the National Inventors Hall of Fame, and was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2007. And he never put down his guitar: Paul played Monday night gigs at a jazz club in New York City for more than 20 years—his last show was June 1, 2009. In a 1987 interview with The Washington Post he said, "What can be better than looking forward to Mondays?"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- China's leader is telling the People's Liberation Army to prepare for war
- Diagnosing the Home Alone burglars' injuries: A professional weighs in
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- The best books we read in 2014
- How I lost all my money
- The religious right isn't retreating — it's reforming
- How to save money: 12 great personal finance tips
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- Why Pakistan won't hunt down the terrorists within its borders
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
Subscribe to the Week