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Real-life guitar hero: Les Paul

The ultimate 'can do' guy helped Woodstock plug in.

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With all the Woodstock reminiscing and hoo-ha going on this week, I'd like to remind one and all that the legendary festival was not all about Jimi, Janis, Jefferson Airplane, CSN&Y, or Sly and the Family Stone. It was a lot about a guy who wasn't even there. So if I had his cellphone number handy, I'd personally request that the Who's great guitarist Pete Townshend plug in and unleash a vigorous windmill guitar strum in honor of the godfather of the electric guitar, Les Paul.

The musician, songwriter, inventor, innovator, dreamer, real-life guitar hero, and life-long perfectionist passed away this week. Anyone who's ever played an electric guitar is in his debt, for the precocious guitar virtuoso from Waukesha, Wisc., was already playing his own cobbled- together electric guitar a dozen years before the first commercial models appeared. Anyone who's ever enjoyed layered, imaginative recordings like The Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" or Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" should tip a hat to Les, who invented multi-track recording. And tape delay. And echo.


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