Les Paul: 1915 – 2009I was going to post something else before I jump on the Woodstock anniversary bandwagon this weekend (oh yeah – you think I’m missing that?), but I just heard this afternoon about the passing of Les Paul.
I’m pretty old, but not quite so old as to know much about the Les Paul and Mary Ford records or the music Les Paul made as a younger man. But I can attest to the influence Les had on the rock ‘n’ roll that I know and love. You would be hard pressed to find a rock guitarist who hasn’t played a Gibson Les Paul at some point. Even me – and I’m not a musician by any stretch – the first guitar I bought that I never learned to play was a Les Paul copy.
To sum up his achievements in a paragraph seems almost blasphemy, but Les Paul created the solid-body electric guitar. Called “The Log,” it was the precursor to his Gibson Les Paul guitar. He then began working on new studio techniques: putting microphones close to individual instruments to reduce noise and help separate specific sounds, playing and recording along with other recordings to create multiple tracks. By the late 50’s, he had invented an eight-track recording machine that would pave the way for producers like George Martin, who created much of the Beatles’ mid-Sixties works using Paul’s multitrack technology.
I wanted to somehow pay tribute to Les Paul’s genius and I guess the best way to do that is post something by a guitarist I admire and that Paul had so much influence on. After much casting about, I decided on Slash and a track from the 1992 Guns N’ Roses album Use Your Illusion I.
Guitar World magazine dubbed Slash’s “November Rain” solo as the sixth greatest rock guitar solo of all time. “When it came time to do the record,” Slash told Guitar World, “I just went into the studio, played the solo through a Les Paul Standard and a Marshall and said, ‘I think that sounds right. It was as simple as that.”