Today is the celebration of Les Paul’s 105th birthday. What would guitar players and music lovers do without the ‘Wizard of Waukesha’ and all his great contributions to the music industry? From his namesake Gibson Les Paul, which began as ‘The Log’ and was developed over several years in the late ‘30s and early ’40s to pioneering multi-track recording, Paul was a true innovator.
His guitar picking was legendary, and he performed live regularly in New York City up until his passing at the age of 94 in 2009. Guitarists would make the pilgrimage to catch his shows at Fat Tuesday’s and later, the Iridium. It was also a rite of passage for many to bring their personal Les Paul model guitar with them, shyly asking Les to bestow an autograph on the ax. During each show, the old-school Paul worked the room like a vaudeville entertainer, cracking jokes and ribbing anyone within his vicinity before getting down to musical business with his longtime bandmates- guitarists Lou Pallo, Frank Vignola and bassist Gary Mazzaroppi, virtuosos in their own right.
Many of those shows were captured on video by Chris Lentz, Les’s official photographer and now on staff at the Les Paul Foundation. Thank you Chris for capturing history!
Sit back and enjoy some rare moments with the great Les Paul and friends.
Les Paul with Paul McCartney:
Les Paul with Keith Richards:
Les Paul with Steve Miller:
Les Paul with Queen’s Brian May:
Les. Paul with Tommy Emmanuel:
Les Paul with George Benson: