So as I am writing this it is still currently Les Paul’s birthday. Funny how these thing’s work out, right? I know I’ve been away for a while, so take your anger out on Matt. It is time to continue this list and there is clearly no better time than the present. There is a great deal of fascinating stuff about Les Paul and I’m not talking about that nifty guitar thing Google had up…even though that was awesome.
Les Paul was born Lester William Polsfuss and played jazz as well as country guitar. Rock and roll exists in large part because of Paul’s part in pioneering the electric guitar. If you want to talk about someone being influential, here’s your guy. If it wasn’t for his work, many genres of music would never have evolved.
In 1940, “The Log” was built in the Epiphone guitar factory. This was no mere cylindrical slab of wood, but one of the first solid-body electric guitars. There was a great deal of drama when the Gibson company changed the design of the guitar without Paul’s knowledge in response to declining sales. Les wasn’t so happy, but went on after an unpleasant divorce to put his name on the guitar, followed by “SG.” This designation stands for “solid body,” and gained immense popularity after Eric Clapton began playing the model, as well as the ES-335.
In addition to the immensely important innovation, Les Paul also delved into multi-track recordings. With a push from Bing Crosby, Les Paul went for it, creating his own studio, utilizing acetate discs instead of magnetic tape.
So, why does Les wind up at #20? Because…he helped make all these things possible…not to mention he was a pretty good guitarist.