Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Influence of Les Paul.

On a Summer Monday, back in the early 90's, My cousin Pat, my buddy, Jimbo and I headed for Third Avenue in NYC to catch Les Paul at Fat Tuesdays. We were all in a band together at the time, and were big fans of Les Paul. As we squished into our tight fitting table, I said "Thank God we made it to see Les today. He's getting up there and who knows how much longer he'll be playing guitar." He went on to play for another 15 years or so, and I've had the pleasure of seeing him perform again after that night, and to shake his hand.

He played at Fat Tuesdays and then moved on to the Irridium. He told the story of how he originally got the Monday night gig at Fat Tuesday's. Les called the manager at the time and said "This is Les Paul and I want to play at your club on Monday nights." The manager then informed him that the club was colsed on Monday nights, but he would book him any other night he wanted to play. Les persisited, "I want to play on Monday nights." The manager again protested and Les finally said "You don't understand-I want to play for free on Monday nights." The manager then said "We are now open on Monday nights."

His shows were a mixture of great jazz and jokes, and he was known to make fun of the menu when he played, and it was always a great time, and so many great musicians played with him over the years including Bing Crosby, Chet Atkins, Mary Ford, Brian May and on and on.

Everyone knows about Les Paul's chops, and most know that he was one of the inventors of the modern electric guitar, but perhaps his greatest contribution to the recording industry was his invention of "multi-track" recording. Prior to his engineering work with multiple tracks it was only possible to record two tracks, at most. His invention changed music forever!

I'm sad that Les passed away, but he lived a good, long life and was an inspiration to many.
Les Paul and my Uncle Ren were two of my earliest inspirations when I first picked up the guitar. He will surely be missed.

2 comments:

Rogelio said...

Awesome that you got to see him play... sad news for the music world - specially anyone toting an electric guitar, even if it is from time to time - to know about his passing away.

Great article Nick!

Nite Owl said...

Wish I'd had a chance to see him play. By all accounts I've heard he was an all-around great guy, as well as a super-talented musician and guitar-pioneer. Didn't know the part about multi-tracking. Wow. That just makes him even cooler, if that's possible. Thanks for sharing, Nick!