Thursday, August 13, 2009

I've just heard about the death of Les Paul. I really, honestly, thought he was good for the ton and then a few more. His mother achieved a great age, and, when I saw him live at Iridium in New York in 2002, he looked indestructible - even if a stroke had robbed him of some of his dexterity. However, I don't think anyone can call 94 a bad innings, and he packed a hell of a lot in to his time on Earth. Pioneering and popularising, if not actually inventing, the solid-body electric guitar. Creating 78rpm soundscapes that still sound futuristic as all get out. Inspiring Ampex to make the first practical multi-track tape recorder. I grew up with his music, and I still revisit those amazing, astonishing Capitol sides regularly. When he struck up 'Brazil' on that night in New York 7 years ago, I found myself crying a little. I'd played the record to death, and now I was no more than 20 feet away from the man who'd made it, hearing him play it live. After the show, he sat at a table and signed stuff for anyone who wanted it, which was just about everyone in the audience. I waited my turn, shook his hand and we had a brief chat. I tried not to gush. I didn't need to. Without being arrogant, he knew precisely how great and important he was. RIP Red Hot Red.