Electric Guitar pioneer Les Paul dies, aged 94

Posted: 13th August 2009

Electric guitar pioneer Les Paul has today died of complications from pneumonia, aged 94.

His name is synonymous with both the Gibson guitar which bears his name, as well as his sped-up guitar lines of his late 40s "half speed" records. The innovative guitarist invented many devices and techniques - the majority of which were due to his frustration with the limitations of guitars/ recording equipment at the time. Indeed, his invention of the guitar "pickup", which basically involved him bastardising a record deck and using the moving magnet pickup of the tonearm to amplify the sounds of the vibrating strings transformed (eventually) the way "modern" music is made... and I use the word "modern" with tongue firmly in cheek.

The Gibson Les Paul has gone on to be one of the most successful guitars in history, with it being the guitar of choice for rock-heads, blues strummers and jazz players.

Living to the grand old age of 94, he was gigging up to the last, playing live in New York, and in 2006 winning two Grammys for his album 'Les Paul & Friends: American Made World Played'. Grammys are not the only awards he picked-up in his life, he was inducted into many "halls of fame" as well as being an honorary member of the Audio Engineering Society (AES).

Les died on Thursday 13th August in hospital with his family and friends by his side.

Daniel O'Connell