Monday, August 17, 2009

RIP: Les Paul

OK. I never was a big fan of Les Paul (June 9, 1915 – August 13, 2009). I only recently discovered how much I like the music he and Mary Ford recorded before I was born. But no one can doubt the influence he had on twentieth century music. Where would rock and roll be without the guitar that bore his name?

Ironically, when The Economist showed up in the mail on Friday, the cover featured an angel playing a Les Paul guitar to promote a feature on why we love music.

Les Paul became an inspiration to me a few years ago when I heard an NPR interview with him. Arthritis had all but taken his hands. He could only use one finger on his left hand consistently, sometimes two. But he kept playing. The bit they played on the radio sounded as good as many four-fingered guitarists and better than most.

How did he deal with the pain? He said, if you want to play, you do what you have to.

Les Paul died last Thursday, but today I am grateful for all that he gave us.

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