October 9, 2008
It was good to see 73-year-old Les Paul still alive to see his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Twenty years later, Paul is still around to enjoy the accolades that continue to roll in.
“Les Paul & Friends, A Tribute To A Legend,” which the legendary guitarist released Sept. 28, includes a contingent of Paul prodigies who celebrate the wide range of styles from the instrument he developed.
Paul was a pioneer in creating the solid-body electric guitar, which allowed the sound of rock ‘n’ roll. He was also an innovator in multitrack recording, phasing and delay effects, and overdubbing.
In 1948, Paul suffered severe injuries in a car accident. In a well-documented story, doctors told Paul he would have limited use of his left arm. Paul had them put the arm in a bent position, which would allow him to hold a guitar.
He’s made some 40 albums, playing in a jazzy style. But Paul is a master of every guitar genre, including a 1977 collaboration with country’s Chet Atkins to record the acclaimed album “Chester and Lester.”
Although Rolling Stone rated him the 43rd greatest guitarist of all time, Paul is best-known for his guitar innovations. Gibson put his 1941 electric guitar prototype into use, and music has never been the same since.
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Now 93, Paul’s right hand is fine but he can use of only two fingers on his left hand. But the man can still play. He contributes to seven of the new album’s 10 tracks. The list of other contributors is impressive:
– Slash, of Velvet Revolver, best known for his time with Guns N’ Roses.
– Joe Bonamassa, a rising guitar wizard and one of the few legitimate great white hopes of blues.
– Peter Frampton, whose talking guitar led to one of the best-selling albums ever, “Frampton Comes Alive.”
– Johnny Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls.
– Joe Perry, the guy from Aerosmith who Rolling Stone ranks just five notches behind Paul.
– Richie Sambora, the player, songwriter and producer behind Bon Jovi.
– Hiram Bullock, who died of throat cancer July 25 during the album’s production.
Bullock was the big man in David Letterman’s band, and also played with Miles Davis, Gil Evans, Steely Dan, Paul Simon and David Sanborn.
The nonguitarists in the studio also are all-stars, including drummer Kenny Arnoff, who just played in Tahoe with Derringer, bassist Will Lee, another Letterman vet, and Joan Osborne, whose vocals on “I Don’t Want To Be With Nobody But You,” makes it a standout track. Sambora’s “Great Hall Of Fame,” is a fitting homage and final track to the very much still-alive-and-well Les Paul.
CLEVELAND (AP) ” Slash couldn’t miss a chance to pay tribute to his own guitar hero, Les Paul.
The former Guns N’ Roses guitarist signed up to play at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s tribute concert Nov. 15 without even hearing who he’d be playing with on stage.
“I’m just coming with my guitar,” Slash said.
The concert at Cleveland’s State Theater includes a lineup of guitar virtuosos like Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, The Ventures and Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi.
Slash, a member of Velvet Revolver, said he’d do anything for the 93-year-old Paul, known as the “Father of the Electric Guitar.” Paul’s many contributions to music include building the first solid-body electric guitar in 1941.
“The legion of guitar players I grew up listening to would have been completely different had Les not been around,” Slash said.
Paul is expected to attend the American Music Masters series event. Slash said he previously played with Paul and couldn’t keep up with him.
“He just cleaned the stage up with me,” the 43-year-old Slash said.
Slash recorded Guns N’ Roses’ masterpiece “Appetite for Destruction” on a replica of a 1959 Gibson Les Paul that was made by a private builder.
This is the second time Slash will be involved with a Rock Hall gig in the last two years. Velvet Revolver performed when Van Halen was inducted into the hall last year.
Slash said someone pointed out to him at the performance that Guns N’ Roses would be eligible for the hall in 2012. Artists are eligible 25 years after recording their first single or album.
Only two members of Van Halen showed up for their induction. Slash said if Guns N’ Roses were inducted, he wouldn’t want to follow a similar path.
“I hope whatever differences we’d accrued over the years, we’d be able to show up as professionals and accept it with dignity,” he said.