Thursday, August 13, 2009

R.I.P. Les Paul

Les Paul was the inventor of the electric guitar and while that is what he will be remembered for, he may have made a larger contribution to rock and roll by developing multitrack recording.  Prior to multitrack, all the artists had to perform at the same time, singing into a can, and what you heard was what you got.  Les changed all that.  Multitrack allows the drums to be recorded, then the guitar, then maybe the singer.  If the singer screws up but the guitarist was hot, just re-record the singer and pair that track with the hot guitar track.  Bands didn't even need to record on the same day or in the same studio.  And you could overdub, taking one part and making it sound like "three, six, nine, 12, as many voices as I wished," according to Les.  He finished that thought with one of the biggest understatements of all time:  "This is quite an asset."
Les Paul was 94 when he died.  He had 36 gold records and 11 number one hits between 1949 and 1962.  He won a grammy award when he was 90.  R.I.P., Mr. Paul.


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