Sorry for the lack of posting on Monday. But I spent my last full day in New York having lunch with my wife and a friend at the Four Seasons (my very favorite restaurant–there I said it–ever since I was a kid. It doesn’t hurt that it was designed by Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson, or that the food is pretty good, too), followed by an interview with Les Paul, who’s about to celebrate his 87th birthday next week.
To paraphrase Woody Allen’s line to Groucho Marx, sorry I won’t be able to attend your 87th birthday Les, but I expect you to be at mine!
My profile of Les Paul should appear soon in Catholic Exchange, and the quotes from my interview with him will help to flesh out the article I’ve been assigned by Vintage Guitar magazine on Gibson’s Les Paul Custom electric guitar.
In the meantime, all I can say is that it’s always wonderful to talk to a legend–here’s a guy who’s led several remarkable lives concurrently: he played guitar behind Bing Crosby in the 1940s, had numerous best selling records in the 1950s with his then wife, Mary Ford, and during the same decade, simultaneously help to design what would become (alongside the Fender Stratocaster) the greatest rock and blues electric guitar of all time (just ask Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Jeff Beck and Slash of Guns and Roses–they all played a Les Paul at one time or another), and also invented many of the music recording techniques that we take for granted today.
For the past twenty years, Les has played every Monday night in New York–first at a club called Fat Tuesday’s, and since the early ’90s, a club called the Iridium. Backed by two rhythm guitarists–Lou Pallo on electric (a Les Paul Custom, naturally) and Frank Vignola on acoustic, and Nicki Parrott on stand up bass, Les plays a variety of tunes from the 1940s and 50s–his own hits, plus those of Gershwin, Cole Porter, and other classic composers.
There’s a real sense of history here. I can’t help but think that the ghosts of great legendary guitarists Django Reinhardt, Charlie Christian (Les’s development of the electric guitar seemed to have taken off when Christian’s voice on the instrument was silenced by an untimely death from tuberculous in the early 1940s), Wes Montgomery (whom Paul knew) and Jimi Hendrix (who once called Paul for advice concerning his Electric Lady studios) are watching overhead as Les plays.
So many lives lived by one man–so much innovation. And so much great music!
Needless to say, I’ll let you know when my actual articles about Les and the guitar he designed are available!
UPDATE: I tried to upload a photo of Les from the show, but Blogger’s upload function is giving me fits, and I don’t have the same FTP flexibility on this laptop that I do on my desktop PC at home. So stand by–I’ll post a photo or two when mid-week, when I’m back at EdDriscoll.com Central.
Update: I later gave the article to Blogcritics during its very, very early days. It must have the longest ongoing comments section ever.