Frater Les Paul Remembered for a Lifetime of Music
WHITE PLAINS, NY - The death of Frater Les Paul (Gamma-Delta, Univ. of Miami) may not have been as unexpected as the loss of Michael Jackson or other stars who die in the middle of their lives. After all, Lester William Polsfuss was 94 years old.
a special tribute from Frater Mike Huckabee (Beta-Psi, Arkansas State Univ.) to Frater Les Paul.
He was inducted into both the Rock and Roll and National Inventors Halls of Fame. He invented the solid-body electric guitar in 1941, and it has become the standard. From his early days, playing with artists such as Bing Crosby, the Andrews Sisters and Nat King Cole, to recently playing at the Iridium Jazz Club on Monday nights, he was always approachable and ready to talk guitar with anyone who had the time. Les loved music - all kinds. He recorded country music with Chet Atkins, popular music with Mary Ford and played jazz with the best. Artists such as Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett would drop in on his Monday night gigs to pay tribute to the legend.
He was without exaggeration the single most important figure in the history of modern music technology. The inventor of multi-track recording, the mobile recording studio, basic gear for reverb/echo and other effects, even the bass guitar - not to mention the primary architect of the solid-body guitar.
Since his boyhood days in Waukesha, Wisconsin, twin curiosities about all things musical and mechanical seemed to run in Les Paul’s blood.
“When I first recognized that I had any kind of musical ability,” he said, “I had to be around 5 to 6 years old. And I was pounding on boards that separated the stairway from the living room. I could play all kinds of different songs - except for one note, and that one board, I had to shave down a little bit.”
It was slightly sharp, you see.
Not yet having many musical instruments at his disposal, young Les grabbed most anything he could get his hands on, including the harmonica, and he could sing a little bit, too.
“I had to have something to accompany me with,” he said. “But with the piano I had my back turned to the people; and I tried an accordion, but Mother wouldn’t let it leave the house.”
So Paul’s decision wiggled itself down to guitar - “and when I got that guitar, that was it.”
Frater Les Paul passed away after complications from pneumonia at the age of 94 last week. It was first reported on TKE’s official Twitter page while the new website was undergoing some routine maintenance.