Thursday, August 13, 2009

Les Paul, father of the electric guitar and modern sound recording, dies at 94

Jimmy Page spent his teen years teaching himself how to play guitar, and one of the jazz guitarists who inspired him at that time was Les Paul.

Page once said, "Les Paul was so far ahead of the time, he was like a scientist."

Paul died today at a hospital in White Plains, N.Y., after a bout with pneumonia. He was 94.

In addition to being a pioneer in utilizing the complexities of the electric guitar, Paul was also responsible for developing multi-track recording processes.

Page grew up listening to the jazzy hit records Les Paul made in the 1950s with his wife, Mary Ford, on vocals. Often, Ford would be harmonizing with herself on two separate tracks, while her husband would be playing a lead track on top of a rhythm track.

Multi-tracking became an industry standard, and it is certainly a part of the Led Zeppelin sound on albums.

In the movie "It Might Get Loud," which opens tomorrow in New York and Los Angeles, Page tells his fellow guitarists Jack White and The Edge that as a kid, he used to listen to any records that had guitar in them at all. This clip, which also shows Page playing air guitar to "Rumble" by Link Wray, is available below:

Les Paul played weekly jazz sets in New York, often with special guests. Page attended Paul's birthday celebration on June 9, 1987, and the two jammed together.

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