Les Paul, the inventor of the solid-body electric guitar and Grammy award winner, passed away early this morning at White Plains Hospital in New York due to respiratory failure. He was 94 years old.
A longtime inventor, Les Paul created his first solid-body guitar out of a four-inch thick piece of wood ripped off a railroad track and a neck that he removed from an Epiphone guitar. It was aptly named "The Log". This early version was spurned by audiences due to the strange look and Les spent the next several years perfecting the visual appearance.
He was also at the forefront in developing new recording techniques such as multi-tracking, a familiar component of the eight-track player. Experimenting with a tape recorder, he tried adding an extra playback head to the recorder and ending up creating the delayed effect known as tape echo.
In the 1940's, Les Paul began testing guitar models for the Gibson company as a consultant. Ten years later, a rival to Gibson developed a similar model to Les Paul's original design and Gibson immediately went after Les Paul's endorsement of their design on the solid-body electric guitar. This resulted in the creation of the very popular Gibson Les Paul model.
Les was also an amazingly gifted guitar player and three time Grammy Award winner. He played with artists such as Louie Armstrong, Andy Williams, Art Tatum, Nat King Cole as well as touring with Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters. In 1976, he won a Grammy for best country instrumental performance with Chet Atkins on the album "Chester and Lester". In 2006, he picked up two more Grammys for his album "Les Paul & Friends: American Made, World Played." He was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 and Rolling Stone added Les Paul to their Greatest Guitarists of All Time list in 2003.
Despite losing usage of fingers on his left hand due to painful arthritis, Les continued to play at Fat Tuesday's in New York throughout the 90s. His love for the guitar will forever be remembered by countless musicians and his contributions to the development of modern music are truly legendary.
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