Yesterday, June 9, 2015, was the 100th anniversary of the late, great Les Paul's birth. To celebrate the occasion, the guitar community threw one hell of a party in New York City's Times Square, not far from the Iridium, where the legendary guitarist and innovator played during the last years of his storied life.
To say Les Paul was an innovator would be the greatest of understatements. Though we might take his inventions and ideas for granted today, his influence on the development of music, and the way it is recorded, is unparalleled.
In the summer of 1986, Guitar Center opened a mammoth music store on Sunset Boulevard in the center of Hollywood. Eddie Van Halen and Les Paul were being honored along with several other musical giants, including Stevie Wonder and amp builder Jim Marshall, as part of the store’s opening celebration. It seemed natural to take the opportunity to put Ed and Les together in the same room to talk about what they knew best—playing the guitar. The following is an excerpt from the story that originally appeared in the November 1986 edition of Guitar World.
Last night, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay paid $335,500 for a controversial guitar, Les Paul's very own 1954 Les Paul Custom "Black Beauty." According to The New York Times, Irsay's guitar curator, Christopher McKinney, placed the bid at the February 19 auction, which took place at Guernsey's in New York City.
Guitar Player’s February 2015 issue features a cover feature about Les Paul’s 1954 Black Beauty. For those unfamiliar with the story, the Black Beauty is the very guitar on which Les performed many modifications over the years as he sought to improve upon Gibson’s original design.
Pete Townshend of The Who will be presented with the Les Paul Award at the 28th Annual Technical Excellence & Creativity Awards. The TEC Awards will take place Friday, January 25, at the Anaheim Hilton during the 2013 NAMM Show.
Over the weekend, an auction of guitars and memorabilia owned by the late Les Paul raised nearly $5 million for the Les Paul Foundation. The foundation, which was established by Paul, supports music education, engineering, innovation and medical research.
Leslie West grew up in New York City and started out as one of the original members of The Vagrants. Of course, he is best known as the guitarist for the hard rock group Mountain, who Rolling Stone once called “a louder version of Cream.” The band gave us classics like “Mississippi Queen” and “Theme from an Imaginary Western” and was credited with helping the development of heavy metal.
Guitarist Mick Taylor, who is generally considered the most musically gifted Rolling Stone of all time, is heading to New York City next week to kick off a six-night run of shows at the Iridium Jazz Club at 1650 Broadway. The shows run May 9 through May 14.