The legendary Les Paul — the Grammy award winning artist who invented the solid-body electric guitar later played by some of the greatest names in rock ‘n roll — died Thursday of complications from pneumonia at the age of 94.
Paul passed away at White Plains Hospital with his family and friends were by his side.
The use of electric guitar gained popularity in the mid-to-late 1940s, and then exploded with the advent of rock in the 1950s.
“Suddenly, it was recognized that power was a very important part of music,” Paul once said. “To have the dynamics, to have the way of expressing yourself beyond the normal limits of an unamplified instrument, was incredible. Today a guy wouldn’t think of singing a song on a stage without a microphone and a sound system.”
In 1952, Gibson Guitars began production on the Les Paul guitar. Pete Townsend of The Who, Steve Howe of Yes, jazz great Al DiMeola and Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page all made the Gibson Les Paul their trademark six-string.
Over the years, the Les Paul series has become one of the most popular guitars used. In 2005, Christie’s auction house sold a 1955 Gibson Les Paul for $45,600.
Paul had been hospitalized in February 2006 when he learned he won two Grammys for an album he released after his 90th birthday, Les Paul & Friends: American Made, World Played. “I feel like a condemned building with a new flagpole on it,” he joked.