NEW YORK (Billboard) - Les Paul, who pioneered the design of the solid-body electric guitar and multitrack recording, died on Thursday at a New York hospital of complications from pneumonia. He was 94.
Many of his fellow musicians, producers, and guitar acolytes stepped forward to remember the man who changed the course of modern music and recording. Following are comments from guitarists and music industry figures on his passing.
“Les was a renaissance man. He was many things, a great inventor, a great conceptualizer, but for me he was a great musician, who played with feeling and originality. Sometimes in his many accomplishments like guitar design and the multitrack recorder and all the other things he had a part in, you forget he was an incredible emotional musician.” -- Lenny Kaye, guitarist for Patti Smith and rock historian
“If you look at the Log, the prototype of the Les Paul, he invented what he needed to invent. If he needed a part, he invented a way to make it. So I have to think he would see (digital recording) as a natural evolution of technology. He was always thinking ahead, he was always positive. With him it was all about the idea and the magic of conjuring up these sound images in his head. And that doesn’t have any boundary, mechanical, technical, digital, analog, whatever, that’s really where the magic is, and his genius was envisioning those sounds and making them happen.” -- Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry
“I met him in 1988, when Bon Jovi was starting to work on ‘New Jersey.’ Les came over on my birthday and we sat on the dock behind my house for hours and talked. At the end, he gave me a guitar and said ‘Son, here’s the sword, now go out and cut the s--t.’” -- Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora
“Les Paul was a shining example of how full one’s life can be. He accomplished so much, & was so vibrant & full of positive energy. I’m honored & humbled to have known & played with him over the years, he was an exceptionally brilliant man, musician, inventor, mentor & friend.” -- former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash
“Let us celebrate the era of Les Paul today, and the world of sound we get to experience thanks to him. What a legacy, what a life. ‘Somewhere there’s music ... how high the moon ...’ Because of Les, everywhere there’s music.” -- country star/guitarist Brad Paisley
“Multitracking in and of itself is probably the most ingenious thing ever because it allowed an artist to play multiple roles, or duplicate himself on a track. If we didn’t have multitracking, how else would you get to hear someone sing their own backing harmonies, or play a lead guitar over a rhythm guitar they themselves have played? Or allow an artist like Prince for example, to play every instrument on a recording, bass, drums, guitar, programing, singing. The depth of an artist can be so much more than just a singular performance. Imagine if Frank Sinatra got to sing background harmonies with himself, it could have been some amazing recordings.” -- record producer Rob Cavallo
(Editing by SheriLinden at Reuters)