Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Life Ends, But The Sustain Remains

One of my favorite things about Arnie Palmer occurs when he enters a hospitality establishment and orders an Arnie Palmer. Whether the barkeep recognizes Arnie or not -- I have seen it both ways -- he gets what he ordered, usually as a prelude to more lively liquids.

Similarly, I have wondered what it might be like for Les Paul to wander into any guitar shop -- as he could have any day during the past five decades -- and asked someone to hand him a Les Paul for a spin.

Les Paul, master and pioneer of the solid-body electric guitar, died today, at 94, seven decades after he built an electric guitar from a 4-by-4 (and thereby precipitated rock 'n' roll), six decades after he designed Gibson's Les Paul, five decades after devising seminal recording methods.

Lester Polsfuss' mother once received a note from a music teacher: "Your boy, Lester, will never learn music." Lester not only learned it, he changed it, and I -- despite being a confirmed Fender man, Telecaster and Music Master in particular -- consider myself a beneficiary of his genius and his effort.

1 comment:

n'at said...

I remember my first les paul record. i was amazed at his superhuman precision and quickness on a particular arrangement. it was much later that i learned of him recording the track at half-speed. Sneaky old bird... Not that I could perform the arrangement at either tempo, anyhow.