I think the two comments I saw most often in the emails I received today were “he changed music forever” and “we were blessed to have him around as long as we did”. Yep, I probably took it for granted that he’d live forever too. But like many of you, I’m saddened by his loss but appreciative of his accomplishments and his contributions to music – without his persistence and dedication, who knows how different the concept of amplified guitar would be today, or how long it would have taken to get off the ground? How would some of the world’s most legendary axemen been different? He pioneered multi-track recording, overdubs, tape delays…a true genius who lived 94 years to the fullest..
His contribution as an inventor should not overwhelm his legacy as a performer and recording artist; virtually any player of note can trace their lineage back to him through other influences if not directly. Lightning fast and clean, a master of tone, and a disciplined visionary who knew that more is often more.
I’m sure the web will be filled by tributes over the coming days, but the outpouring of sadness will be tempered by a wealth of stories about personal contact and inspiration that I could never hope to generate myself. So I’ll leave you with a couple of informative links and a recommendation, and I’ll be surfing and reading along with you. If there is a band in the next life, a ringer just walked onstage.
Get the American Masters DVD Chasing Sound.
Tribute on the PBS page
Les Paul discography
Les Paul on Wikipedia