Revered musician and inventor Les Paul died today, August 13, of complications from pneumonia. He was 94 years old.
Paul died at White Plains Hospital in White Plains, NY, according to a statement from Gibson Guitar. The music pioneer had faced declining health in recent years and was surrounded by friends and family at the time of his death.
During his life, Paul was most widely known for popularizing the solid-body electric guitar and lending his name to Gibson Guitar’s famed “Les Paul” model of the instrument. Some of music’s leading guitarists are well known for their use of the Gibson Les Paul, including Eric Clapton, Pete Townshend and Jimmy Page, among others.
Apart from his work in bringing the electric solid-body guitar to the forefront of music, Paul had a heavy impact on the recording and performing industries in terms of his other inventions and musical contributions.
He pioneered the use of multi-track recording in the late 1940s, fashioning and fine-tuning his own devices for the process, first revealed on the 1947 track “Lover (When You’re Near Me).” Later, working with his then-wife Mary Ford, Paul earned a total of 36 gold records for their singles and began developing techniques for overdubbing.
Paul earned countless honors through his life, including his 1988 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Late last year, the Hall of Fame also presented an American Masters Tribute concert honoring Paul in Cleveland, OH.
As news of Paul’s passing spread through the industry, many stepped forward to pay their respects to the man who revolutionized modern music.
“The world has lost a truly innovative and exceptional human being today. I cannot imagine life without Les Paul,” commented Gibson’s chairman and CEO, Henry Juszkiewicz, in a statement. “He would walk into a room and put a smile on anyone’s face. His musical charm was extraordinary and his techniques unmatched anywhere in the world.”
Blues musician B. B. King commented in a statement, “Les Paul was truly a ‘one of a kind.’ We owe many of his inventions that made the rock ‘n’ roll sound of today to him, and he was the founding father of modern music. This is a huge loss to the music community and the world. I am honored to have known him.”
According to the Gibson Guitar statement, a private funeral service will be held for Paul in New York City. A public service in his hometown of Waukesha, WI, and public memorial tributes will follow, with details yet to be announced.