Thursday, August 13, 2009

Les Paul - RIP

I once had the great pleasure of sitting and talking with guitar legend Les Paul who has died at the age of 94.
This photo was take in 2004 after his usual Monday night performance at New York's Iridium Jazz Club. I was deeply into guitar playing back and a trip to see guitar pioneer Les Paul was a must-do. In addition to be a hit-maker with his wife, Mary Ford, in the 40's and 50's, Paul also invented many of the recording techniques that are still used to this day. And his solid-body name sake guitar is still used by major rock guitarists today. Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin helped popularize the Les Paul model ax.

Les Paul kept his autograph simple, "To Paul ... Howdy, Les."
What I'm not showing is another part of the autograph in which he included his home phone number. I told him I was a broadcaster (for Tampa Bay at the time) and that I was in town to call the games against the Yankees. Then Yankees manger Joe Torre was a pal of his, but he'd lost his phone number. So Les asked me to give Torre his number so Joe could call him. I gladly passed along the request.

This is part of the program from the Iridium Jazz Club promoting the Monday night performances by Les Paul. He was there most Monday's for two shows and he'd choose one or two guitarists from the audience to play as well. He played this club for 12 years - into his 90's. I did notice in the last couple of months several guest guitarists sitting him for him while he was ill. Former Yankees' center-fielder Bernie Williams - now retired after a great career in NY - recently played the Monday night gig in Paul's absence.

1 comment:

Matt said...

Thanks for those memories, Paul. It was kind of sad that it took Les's passing to hear his music on radio once again, but what music! Your shots filled out the story.