Tuesday, August 18, 2009

One Video Ahead: A Les Paul Tribute

I'm not a guitarist. I've never been. Even when I used to be a musician, I found the keyboards perfectly suited to my linear way of thinking while the guitar bewildered me. Maybe this is a good thing, for if I had ever seriously attempted to play the guitar, at some point I would have gotten hip to Les Paul. And I would have tried to play like him. And I would have failed miserably and given up the axe in shame.

Before giving up the instrument, I might've read how he built one of the first solid-body electric guitars and that the Gibson Les Paul became a favorite model of such rock giants as Keith Richards, Pete Townshend, and Jimmy Page. And I might've tried to invent my own innovative model, which of course would have led to nothing.

But wait! There's more! Multi-tracking is a recording technique that's long been near and dear to my heart. As a 14-year-old, I was fascinated and inspired that Gene Pitney transcended the limitations of early-1960s recording technology to multi-track himself into a full band. Little did I realize that Les Paul had pioneered that very technique more than a decade earlier!

See, I knew the name. I knew he was a big deal. But I didn't realize how big a deal he was until after he died last week at the age of 94. Let everyone else deliver the umpteenth story about that other great musical talent who passed away this summer; One Note Ahead will now present three Les Paul videos for your viewing and listening pleasure. Remember that the volume varies on these and that they might not be available forever.

Les Paul and his then-wife and partner Mary Ford demonstrate multi-tracking on "Omnibus" with Alistair Cooke, October 23, 1953. The techniques and Paul's playing are way ahead of their time.

I don't know the date on this one, but this is another demonstration: the Les Pulverizer!

Les Paul at 90, still going strong. From the documentary Les Paul: Chasing Sound!

Text copyright © 2009 S.J. Dibai. All rights reserved.
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