Les Paul, 1915-2009

les1We saw him play at the Iridium, the funky little jazz club that moved — with Lester — from Lincoln Center down close to Letterman on Broadway. Arthritis had robbed him of the flashier chords, but he still kept time better than most 90+ people I know. His fretboard experiments gave us rock & roll, and he knew more about the board than anyone save maybe Chet Atkins or Jerry Garcia. Watching him stride that neck with such ease was just beautiful.

The last guy I saw play at the Iridium was Hammond B-3 specialist Jimmy Smith, who dropped dead about two weeks later. I’m so glad I wasn’t able to convince my friends from Mississippi to go see Les on this last trip; otherwise, I might have felt some responsibility. Go see how high the moon really is, Lester: goodbye, and thank you so much.

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2 Responses to Les Paul, 1915-2009

  1. brenda says:

    Tom-tom, thanks for reminding me that I should do a post about LP on my own blog. Lizzy and I saw him at the Iridium about 9 years ago—she was 16. It was his first performance after a long hospital stay for heart issues. We were first in line for an autograph afterwards, and he was SO gracious!

    Somewhere there’s music…how sweet the tune…

  2. Tom Dupree says:

    If you would like to hear Les duel/duet with another master, buy the 1976 album CHESTER [Atkins] AND LESTER, which is why I presumed to call him that. Then Chet and Mark Knopfler…but I’m getting ahead of myself…

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