Les Paul Inducted Into National Inventor's Hall of Fame
Electric guitar pioneer Les Paul was one of 14 people inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame this year. Guy Gugliotta has done a nice writeup of the history, so do yourself a favor and read the whole article. Here's some random excerpts:
On Saturday, Les Paul, less than a month shy of his 90th birthday, was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, in Akron, Ohio, as the creator of the solid-body electric guitar, arguably the most important musical innovation of the past half-century.
The electric guitar brought Paul international renown as a musician, won him five Grammys, put him on television for eight years with his wife, Mary Ford, and made Gibson Guitar Corp.'s signature Les Paul Standard a guitar of choice for garage bands and virtuosos on five continents.
"In my wildest dreams, I never thought I would see so many people using them," Paul said in a telephone interview last week from his New Jersey home. "I owe it to the rock-and-roll players, especially the Jeff Becks, the Paul McCartneys and Jimi Hendrix. All of them were playing a Les Paul guitar."
"[Gibson] laughed at me for 10 years," Paul said. "They called me 'the guy with the broomstick with the pickups on it.' "
But then one afternoon Leo Fender, a tinkerer who owned a radio repair shop, showed up at Paul's house in Los Angeles to talk about his own ideas for a solid-body. "Leo and I were always good friends," Paul said. "He said we ought to form a company together, but I told him I'd been loyal to Gibson [guitars] all my life, and I'd wait for them." Paul said Fender, who died in 1991, probably should be entering the Hall of Fame, too, but Paiva said no one had nominated him.
After Fender's visit, Paul called Gibson again, and in a tedious, virtually nonstop 30-hour session, convinced them that the log was the future.
And not a moment too soon. Fender came out with the first commercial solid-body, in 1950, and five years later followed with the legendary Stratocaster. Gibson answered in 1952 with its first Les Paul model, and history was made.
The hall was founded in 1973 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the National Council of Intellectual Property Law Associations. It accepts nominations on its Web site (http://www.invent.org) but inductees are selected by a committee including leaders in scientific and technical fields.
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