Music Legend Les Paul Dead at 94

Inventor, guitarist 'changed the course of 20th-century popular music'
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Aug 13, 2009 1:05 PM CDT
In this Nov. 6, 1987 file photo, guitar designer Les Paul, center, signs former Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page's chest after signing his guitar at Paul's 72nd birthday party.   (AP Photo/John Bellissimo)
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(Newser) – Musical innovator and guitar legend Les Paul died today in White Plains, NY. He was 94. A “virtuoso guitarist” himself, in the early 1940s Paul pioneered the “log” guitar, “probably the first solid-body electric guitar," writes Jon Pareles of the New York Times. His popular Gibson Les Paul guitar and his recording inventions helped him “change the course of 20th-century popular music.”

Paul learned to be a “one-man ensemble” by pairing machines and layering recordings; he later built the first eight-track recorder. The Gibson Les Paul has been played by rockers from Jimmy Page to Slash. Paul was also a successful musician in his own right. With his then-wife, Mary Ford, he had dozens of hits in the 1950s and continued to play for decades, battling through arthritis and finger paralysis.