Les Paul would have been 100 today. Few people have had a greater effect on rock ‘n’ roll than Paul with his innovative guitar techniques and his innovations as a luthier. The solid-body electric guitar, delay effects, overdubbing, multi-track recording, unique fretting and chording are just some of the ways the pioneering musician left his mark on popular music. Oh, and the hands-free harmonica holder you still see today, just for good measure.
Today, the Wisonsin native is best known for the line of Gibson guitars bearing his name, but his career spanned hillbilly music, jazz, blues, country and rock. He passed away in 2009, but you can listen to the virtuoso in this June 9, 2003, concert at the Iridium in New York in the player above. The show was exactly 12 years ago today, on Paul’s 88th birthday.