Tribute to the A Guitar and Musical Legend on PBS, Les Paul: Chasing Sound

In a stroke of luck I happened to catch another great music related program on PBS last night, this time on the legendary Les Paul, called Les Paul: Chasing Sound. He is such a legend in guitar circles and with music buffs that of course I had to watch.

I think most people who are aware of guitars and rock and roll at least a little more than casually have heard the name Les Paul, and typically associate it with what is now one of the most famous guitars of all time, the Gibson model that bears his name. The influence of the Les Paul guitar itself is enormous and can be represented in the fact that original vintage models now sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars, but that is barely even a fraction of the influence that Les Paul the man has had on modern music. Without his innovative inventions and groundbreaking contributions to technology and music, rock and roll and music as a whole would sound much different.

Les Paul was one of the original pioneers of the completely solid bodied electric guitar, spurring the evolution of blues, and rock and roll. He also more or less invented multi track recording and sound on sound, or overdubbing developing advanced and highly effective recording techniques that are the basis of probably all advanced recording to this day. He also made numerous other inventions in music always chasing that perfect sound. These contributions alone would solidify his place in history as one of the legends of music, but on top of all of those contributions, he was also an amazing guitarist who inspired several generations of would be guitar players to pick up the instrument and try to match the level of intricacy of his playing.

I thought the television program was really well done and made sure to touch on all the aspects of Les Paul's musical career, but at the same time put a focus on his music, which was originally what he was known for... and for good reason. There are lots of tracks played and this is a nice addition for it isn't often one can hear this music anymore without seeking it out directly. Their beauty and musicality are stunning, as is the recording work, especially the overdubbing which is awe inspiring. Les Paul himself provided a lot of great insight into the genius and a look at someone who truly appreciates music. I also thought it was great to see that Les Paul still performing weekly now in his 90s... And he still sounds amazing, with killer tone and a jazzy flair and style that is completely unique. His playing to this day is so full of intricacies, detail and subtlety that is perfectly married to some high technique... just great and absolutely unique... an inspiration to me as a guitarist and musician.

If you happen to see this program is going to be on your local PBS station, or some other station, or happen upon it on the Internet or elsewhere...I highly recommend you check it out. Les Paul and his musical legacy, are the roots of not only rock and roll, but all modern music. We should all show some appreciation for the myth, the man, the legend that is Les Paul.


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