” One hundred years after his birth, the late Les Paul is remembered for many things: as a pioneer in the development of the solid body electric guitar; the creator of multitrack recording and other groundbreaking studio technologies and for his own successful music career.
And, of course, he’s remembered as the Wizard of Waukesha, a man who for all of his incredible success always remembered where he came from. He was born in Waukesha, and he is buried in Waukesha.
As a result, Paul’s legacy extends beyond his role as the father of modern music, argues Sue Baker, program director for the Les Paul Foundation. He was a humble Wisconsinite who continues to inspire to this day.
” Many of us go through life and think we’re not smart enough, we’re not talented enough,” Baker said. “If we learn Les’ story, we can see that if you have a vision for what you want to do, just go for it. Do not sit back and think you’re not good enough, because you are good enough.”
Paul is “good enough” to be the subject of a series of celebrations this year, including a special Hard Rock Cafe concert in New York’s Times Square Tuesday featuring Joe Bonamassa, Journey guitarist Neal Schon, Milwaukee-born rocker Steve Miller and more noted musicians. There are also two events planned Tuesday in Waukesha, and several more happening in the Milwaukee area this year.
In honor of what would have been Paul’s 100th birthday June 9, get to know the Wizard of Waukesha through this timeline of facts, largely provided by the Les Paul Foundation.
1. Paul was born Lester William Polsfuss on June 9, 1915 in his family’s apartment above his father’s business.
2. Paul grew up on St. Paul Ave. in Waukesha.
3. Paul’s mother gave her son the nickname “Red Hot Red” because of his red hair.
4. Paul had one sibling, his brother, Ralph.
5.As a child, Paul thought he would grow up to work at Waukesha’s Motor Works like most of the men in town.
6. Around age 7, Paul was inspired by a person he saw wind wire around a toilet roll to make a crystal set radio, sparking a lifelong interest in music and electronics.
7.Paul’s inventor idol was Thomas Edison.
8. When he was 8, Paul began playing his first instrument: a harmonica, given to him by a construction worker.
9. Paul built his own crystal radio when he was 9.
10. When he was 10, Paul put together a small orchestra. “
” Les Paul, the virtuoso guitarist and inventor whose solid-body electric guitar and recording studio innovations changed the course of 20th-century popular music, died Thursday in White Plains, N.Y. . He was 94.
The cause was complications of pneumonia, the Gibson Guitar Corporation and his family announced.
Mr. Paul was a remarkable musician as well as a tireless tinkerer. He played guitar alongside leading prewar jazz and pop musicians from Louis Armstrong to Bing Crosby. In the 1930s he began experimenting with guitar amplification, and by 1941 he had built what was probably the first solid-body electric guitar, although there are other claimants. With his guitar and the vocals of his wife, Mary Ford, he used overdubbing, multitrack recording and new electronic effects to create a string of hits in the 1950s.” Continue reading