These days, Les Paul is perhaps best known for the solid-body guitar that bears his name, one that would result in not only numerous versions of the instrument, but also a field of players. This year would now mark five years since the guitar pioneer passed on at the age of 94.
Prior to making his famous guitar, Paul had a career as a singer-songwriter, even having some hits including number ones 1945’s “It’s Been a Long, Long Time” with Bing Crosby, and 1951’s “How High the Moon” with Mary Ford. But it was in 1941, that Paul approached the Gibson Guitar Corporation in an idea of a solid body electric guitar. But it wasn’t until the 1950s, when they teamed up and created the Gibson Les Paul, in which the standard model had a mahogany maple finish on the both the body and neck. The guitar was deemed popular until the late 1950s, and a lighter redesign was in place by 1961.
The Gibson Les Paul found resurgence in the mid-1960s thanks to Eric Clapton (then with John Mayall’s Blues Breakers). It was soon followed by gaining numerous famous players, some of which would have signature Les Paul guitars of their own including Jimmy Page, Joe Perry, Ace Frehley, and Jeff Beck.
As for Paul himself, he went on to occasionally recording jazz and country albums, and up until his death in August 2009, he was playing at New York jazz clubs. Among the honors Paul received included a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (with Mary Ford), the American Music Masters award and the National Inventors Hall of Fame. In 1988, Paul was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.