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Tuesday, 8 September 2009

The legacy of Les Paul


The legacy of Les Paul
The world of rock n roll is not the most natural for giving plaudits and platitudes out to the deserving yet unsung characters but with the passing of one of the most influential heroes you could ever come across. The name of Lester William Polsfuss may not sound like the type of name that will have a stadium audience rocking and rolling but when you shorten it to Les Paul you will probably start to grasp why the world of music is a quieter place this week. Although a musician in his own right, the solid body guitar is what the man was most famously known for and you can guarantee that some of your heroes have rocked the stage using his instrument. Quite simply, the Les Paul guitar is one of the most important weapons a rock and roll act can have in their arsenal. Don’t get us wrong, the Stratocaster, the Telecaster and even the Flying V Guitar have the right to be cherished but the Les Paul is so iconic that it stands out from the rest.
A large part of the reason for its enduring popularity is the number of famous guitar players who regularly play the instrument. This creates a massive demand in their fan base to pick up the instrument as all the inspirational fans pick up the same guitar as their hero. This has seen the Les Paul be the instrument of choice for a whole army of budding musicians and local bands.
One of the most famous players of the Les Paul has been Slash and in the past few days the legendary guitarist has been paying tribute to the man behind his machine. Its hard to think of so many of the great Guns N Roses or Velvet Revolver songs without picturing the Les Paul guitar playing its part. Axl Rose may believe that he was the only focal point for the crowd but with Slash’s guitar playing and Duff McKagan keeping the bottom end together, the music was top notch throughout. And that’s what the Les Paul offered, quality and constancy in an electric guitar and if you were to examine even a partial list of guitarists who used it, it would read like a who’s who of rock n roll.
Classic guitarists like Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Mick Ronson, Joe Perry and Zakk Wylde have all been spotted playing the Les Paul. Given the influence of these musicians, it is easy to see why so many future generations have chosen to use the instrument and it has played its part throughout the years.
Punk rock may have stood itself apart from the generations that went before but Steve Jones of The Sex Pistols and Mick Jones from The Clash were more than happy to be play the Les Paul and the legacy doesn’t stop there. Modern guitarists like Noel Gallagher have ensured that a new generation of budding musicians and music fans have been introduced to the Les Paul and you can guarantee that the musical legacy and influence of Lester William Polsfuss will live on for many generations to come.

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