Lou Pallo, longtime Les Paul Trio guitarist, dies aged 86

Les Paul guitarist Lou Pallo has passed away at 86
(Image credit: Al Pereira/Getty Images/Michael Ochs Archives)

Guitarist Lou Pallo, who accompanied Les Paul in the Les Paul Trio for decades, has died at the age of 86.

Pallo played alongside Paul from the 1980s to the 2000s. He was a central figure in the New York/New Jersey session and live scene extending back to the 1950s.

An incredibly accomplished player, Pallo was known as the Man of a Million Chords for his mastery of the instrument.

Regarding the nickname, he said in an interview with SST Studios, “That’s a name some magazine came up with. They saw me playing with Les and noted that I would play a different chord on each measure; I wouldn’t stay on one chord for a whole bar. That was boring to me. When you record, you have to do that. But for live performance, I just couldn’t stay still on one chord for two measures.”

The Les Paul Foundation paid tribute to Pallo, writing on its website: “Foundation are deeply saddened by the passing of our friend Lou Pallo. With grace and style, an extraordinary talent and smiles that would light up a room, Lou was always there for Les.

“He is admired by many of the world’s greatest musicians and made his mark on many of us. There was never a moment where you would not be assured of seeing him seated next to Les on stage for decades.

“What he has left us is an abundance of amazing musical sounds, memories of shows that just can’t ever be duplicated and a sense of an era that profoundly changed the music industry.”

Fan Keith Richards also remembered Pallo, writing on Twitter, “Rest in Peace dear friend.”

You can watch Pallo jamming with Les and Keith above.

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.