Les Paul, 1915-2009
The passing of Les Paul, inventor of the solid-body electric guitar and multitrack recording, as well as a darn fine musician, elicited an outpouring of warmth and affection from the recording industry. His influence is unparalleled, his generosity and character unmatched. Check in with Mix over the coming months as we update this special tribute site with your remembrances.
Author Tony Bacon has updated The Les Paul Guitar Book, which features 16 more pages and 45 new pictures. This re-titled update of 50 Years of the Gibson Les Paul (2002) tells the story of one of the greatest musical instruments of the 20th century, Les Paul. ...
LES, IN HIS WORDS
Les Paul’s Teenage Multitracking
“My first attempt at multitrack recording was back in the late 1920s. My mother had a player piano, and much to her surprise, I would take her piano rolls and punch extra holes in the paper to create new intros and harmonies.”
Disk Recording Tricks—Old Style
“In 1933, I built my first recording lathe. I was a tinkerer, fooling around with the idea of recording my trio. After one of our rehearsals, the other guys in the band had left, and I realized that I wanted them to put down the rhythm for ‘Lime House Blues.’ I thought about it for a minute and decided to record the rhythm guitar part myself, so I could play along with it and practice.
“But there was no way to hear a playback of me playing to the acetate. I came up with the idea of spreading the grooves farther apart and putting down two tracks on one acetate. I'd cut one recording and then start the second recording between the grooves of the first. I tried to lock these two up so they'd be in sync—I'd have bass and rhythm guitar on one acetate with two playback heads on it, to make a multiple recording.
It didn't work very well, although much later, I once put demos of two songs on one side of a disk—one between the other—for a release I proposed to the president of Capitol Records. The record drove him crazy, because when he went to listen to ‘How High the Moon,’ on came ‘The World's Waiting for a Sunrise;’ the next time he played it, he heard ‘How High the Moon.’ They were going nuts, but later Capitol even considered putting out a record like that. I wanted to do one for promotional purposes to screw up disk jockeys.”