Les Paul: The Original Guitar Hero

09/13/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Shawn Amos blues preacher | content junkie | doughnut lover

Les Paul, the man who helped invent rock and roll, died on August 13 at aged 94. Paul dedicated his entire life to the guitar and recording technology. A jazz musician who was unhappy with the guitars available to him, Paul developed his own guitar in the 1930s called "The Log." It was no more than a piece of lumber with strings and a pick-up. It ultimately became the "Les Paul" and the choice of a generation of rock guitarists from Pete Townshend to Slash.

By the late 1940s, Paul's tinkering in the studio led him to creating the first multi-track recordings. Then in 1951, he became a Number 1 recording artist with the single “How High the Moon,” performed with his wife, Mary Ford. And while the song is good - really good - the track is historic for another reason: it was the first use of tape delay and close mic-ing vocals which Paul created using gear he bought from Bing Crosby.

Paul continued to record, invent, and play until the end. Well into his eighties, he played two weekly New York shows with his Les Paul Trio, at The Iridium Jazz Club in New York City with guests like Paul McCartney and Keith Richards sitting in with him.

Les Paul 's legacy is perhaps best personified by the institutions who have honored him. The restless musican and inventor has been inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and Grammy Hall of Fame. Pretty good for a dude who started out a harmonica player and went by the name Rhubarb Red.

Here are two rock and roll moments which could not have happened without the Les Paul courtesy of The Who and Guns N' Roses. Enjoy and play them loud.