A clear vision and determination are qualities that|
Les Paul have made till what he is.
self made record player
studio Les Paul
studio Les Paul
Recording device AEG-Magnetophons form 1942
Les and Mary married in 1949
together they recorded some of the biggest hits in the 1950s: "How High The Moon", "Mockingbird Hill" and "Vaya Condios".
Les Paul Goldtop 1952
He was born on June 9, 1915 in Waukesha, Wisconsin as Lester William Polsfuss.
Pop and jazz lovers will want to know him better as Les Paul, the architect of a futuristic sound, that was builded
of artistic and expertise on the territory of electronics.
His birthplace in Waukesha, was located to a railroad track.
When Les, as 10-year-old boy, was listening to the trains in his bedroom one morning, he noticed that the windows
began to shake as the sound reached a certain pitch.
Les always wanted to explore everything. "What are you doing?" his mother asked when she saw that Les saw new holes
in the role of the pianola. "I'm making him better," Les replied. Because of the extra holes the pianola turned out to sound like two pianolas.
Les was clearly musically gifted.
When he received a harmonica on his ninth birthday, he was able to play on it after a few hours.
After that, he bought a guitar from his savings and soon got to grips with the basic chords.
Singing and alternating with his harmonica, he formed a one-man band and called himself; Red Hot Red, because of its hair color.
At that time, Les occasionally played in a drive-in restaurant where one day a waitress told him that the customers were complaining.
"They can't hear you in the back," she said.
Something has to be found on that, he thought.
When he discovered that the telephone's handset was vibrated, just like a radio's speaker, Les took both devices to the restaurant.
At the age of seventeen, Les became interested in blue-grass, country music.
A guitarist named "Sunny Joe" Wolverton heard Les playing, and asked Les to come and play with him in the band.
Sunny Joe taught Les Paul everything he knew about the guitar.
In the 1930s, Les played under the pseudo Rhubarb Red, country music in Chicago.
Every night before Les went to bed, he first cleaned his guitar and set it up in his room so that if he woke up in the morning,
his eyes would immediately fall on the instrument.
But the inventor in him remained active.
Les was a 'night owl', and thought it was a pity that in the wee hours there was no one to jam with him.
Then he remembered what he had done at home with the pianola scrolls, and wondered if he could use his recording device to
turn a gramophone into an automatic background band.
He started experimenting.
Sound recordings are recorded on a plate by engraving the vibrations of a needle in a spiral groove.
Les discovered that he could make a second groove between the tracks of the first, on which a different series of notes could be recorded.
Both grooves could then be played simultaneously with the help of two needles.
The effect was that of two guitars.
He then made a second turntable and recorded alternately on one turntable, then again on the other, adding new pieces each time
until the sound consisted of several layers.
After the changed name in Les Paul, he moved to New York. By day he played the guitar in
and national radio program or conductor Fred Warring, and by night for Harlem's big ones of the jazz.
In that time you made a record by putting all musicians in one room and hoping that they would play perfectly.
But someone always made a mistake, and you could start again.
Les was convinced that there had to be a better way.
"You need your own studio," Bing Crosby told him in 1947 when Les was playing with him in Los Angeles.
So Les built his own recording studio in the garage behind the house with the most modern recording equipment at that time.
Studio with above left the control room
During WW II, Les worked for the radio network of the American armed forces, and made recordings that were broadcast all over the world.
But no matter how hard he worked, the Germans seemed to be able to broadcast recordings just as well and often even faster.
How was that possible?
The answer came when Les found a device in an abandoned headquarters of the Germans.
He immediately realized what it was used for.
"Bing," he said to Crosby, "I believe I now know how to sing on the radio, while at the same time on the golf course."
Instead of on plates, this device made recordings on a magnetic tape that could be used over and over again and that could be easily
mounted with scissors and glue.
Les now owned a large number of multi-recorded records, and was determined to make them heard to the world.
One day, when he was rejected by a record company again, Les workmen were busy fixing a sign with "Capitol Record" attached to a building.
With some demos under his arm, he walked back inside, so that if someone stopped him, he could say he was on his way out.
He went backward the stairs and came to the office or vice-president Jim Conkling.
Just when "Lover" was released, Les drove a car that slipped off a slippery road and ended up in an abyss.
The driver, a young singer named Colleen Summers, was not seriously injured, but Les broke his leg, back, both shoulders and contracted a torn spleen.
Eighteen centimeters of bone were removed from his right arm.
The arm was set, but became infected, causing it to swell up to five times its normal size, and it seemed that he should be amputated.
At the age of 33 (at the top of his musical career) Les Paul was about to lose both his arm and fame.
Fortunately, on the advice of a surgeon in Oklahoma, Les was transferred to Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles, where his arm
was broken again and screwed in such a way that his hand was pointing permanently at his navel.
After two years of rehabilitation, Les played the guitar again. "The accident actually improved my technique," he says now.
"It forced me to omit unnecessary movements of the elbow."
The accident had another unexpected consequence.
He and Colleen Summers fell in love.
Les thought she would be a good asset to his act.
"There is only one problem - Your name," he said.
When Summers asked how she to be named, Les consulted the phone book and said, "Mary Ford."
When the rock 'n roll broke through and became the new trend,
Les and Mary also had their own TV show at that time.
But Les went on with inventions
Les had been dreaming of a different kind of sound for years.
Sound that could not even be taken from his electric guitar.
For hours and hours he had been listening to the sound of a single string against different backgrounds, hollow wood, solid wood, steel, aluminum...
His conclusion was that hollow wood was less suitable for reinforcement, so he built a some of solid-body guitars.
They produced exactly the sound he was looking for, but nobody was interested.
"There was no thought that Gene Autry, the popular country singer, was going to play on something that looked like a railway sleepers!" said Les.
In 1950, the new Gibson director met Ted McCarty Les and Mary at a meeting in Pennsylvania and showed them a single cutaway-solid
body guitar with a carved maple top.
Les was particularly enthusiastic about it and suggested fitting his own trapezoid-shaped string holder and tailpiece on the guitar.
They worked all night on a handwritten two-page contract, which stipulated that Gibson would market the guitar with Les string
holder and tail piece under the name Les Paul.
Les would receive royalties from every copy sold and would not be obliged to play another guitar in public.
Theodore (Ted) McCarty
Although the Gibson Guitar Company produced a solid-body guitar in the 1950s, this guitar only became popular in the mid-1960s
when pop music had taken a new direction in groups such as The Beatles, and Les Paul was honored.
Today, an original Les Paul Standard solid-body guitar built by Gibson between 1958 and 1960 generates around $40,000.
Les Paul retained the fascination for the tape recorder.
With the help of others, Les thought that if he moved the heads of the device, he could record one sound over another.
But his next idea was the most revolutionary. "Instead of covering the entire width of the tire, let's put the heads one
above the other and record on multiple tracks," he said.
This led through the development of the synchronized stereophonic band and the eight-track band to the current, advanced techniques.
The modern studios of today use 48 or more track recorders that can be recorded during different sessions.
The tracks are then mixed and the end result often sounds different than the original recording.
Daniel Queen, chairman of the Technical Council of the American Association of Sound Engineering, says:
"Les Paul's multi-track concept has not only influenced the way pop music sounds, it has also influenced serious
music, from the recording of a Mahler symphony to the avant-garde music of composers such as John Cage."
Les Paul remained active in music until his death in 2009.
He and Mary split up after they stopped singing, but they remained friends until her death in 1977.
In the same year, Les Paul received a Grammy award for an album that he made with guitarist Chet Atkins.
Subsequently, the compilation CD "Les Paul: The Legend and the Legacy", which was released in 1992, was nominated for a Grammy award.
Paul still stayed up all night and invented at his New Jersey home, so crammed with equipment (including his mother's wind-up
gramophone that he used the needle for) that someone described the house as "half museum, half electronics -store."
He also worked on recording equipment that will make the CD obsolete again.
"It must be possible to record without moving parts," he said, "and play it through speakers that can reproduce any sound that our eardrum can hear."
Lester William Polsfuss died on August 13, 2009 in White Plains, New York State, from the complications of a severe pneumonia. Les became 94 years old.
Pop guitarist Steve Miller summarized the career of les Paul as follows:
"In addition to the fact that Les has sold millions of records and has fascinated his fans for over sixty years, he was the first
with the talent and insight to combine music and technology."
What Steve Miller and many other guitarists know is that every sound they make is the legacy of Les Paul's talent.
But almost no one can imagine that it all started with a boy, a train and a vibrating window.