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The rock and roll and guitar communities have unfortunately lost a true legend in the past few days. Les Paul passed away last Thursday from complications with pneumonia. He was 94 years old and was still playing clubs and making music right up into the end.
It is perhaps somewhat appropriate that Les Paul's most obvious legacy will be the guitar that bears his name... the infamous Gibson Les Paul. Without Les Paul, such a guitar would never have come into existence. Yes, Les had a hand in the styling and the design of the instrument that would become one of the most if not THE most coveted guitar of all time, but Les Paul also pioneered electric guitars themselves with his "Log" guitar way back in 1940. He saw the genius and the potential of such an instrument years before any of the large instrument makers were bothering to pay attention. Later on he would go on to work out developments in low impedance pickup design, pushing the potential of the electric guitar even further into the future.
And of course it would be folly to mention Paul's guitar and work developing them without mentioning his playing. Few players can match Les Paul in terms of class, complexity and charm in any genre to this day. An extraordinarily talented guitarist, with a unique voice and unparalleled technique, his music is unrivaled captivating.
Les Paul's legacy doesn't stop with just the guitar either. He pioneered numerous new recording and studio techniques including "sound on sound" recording... which would later develop into multi-track recording. Pretty much anyone involved with modern music uses multi-track recording making the influence of Les Paul immeasurable. When the first multi-track recordings hit the market, the music industry was changed forever. This technique opened up the doors for some of the most legendary albums in history from Buddy Holly and the Beatles to Black Sabbath and beyond.
Whether it is because of recording techniques, the guitar that bears his name, his wide reaching influence or simply his compelling and creative music, it is hard to even begin to imagine the world without Les Paul. He was an incredible talent, a fantastic musician and a true innovator in everything he undertook.
On this sad day, The Soul of Rock 'n' Roll offers it's condolences to all the friends and family of Les Paul, along with every fan of music world wide. Whether you were aware of it or not, music everywhere changed drastically when Les Paul arrived on the scene and has changed drastically once again now that he has departed.
R.I.P. Les Paul. Saying that you will be missed, is an understatement. You will certainly continue to be heralded as a legend amongst legends for generations upon generations to come.