Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sunday Morning Vault: Les Paul/Mary Ford--How High The Moon (1951)

      Usually this spot on Sunday morning is reserved for a song and/or artist that has been forgotten. Today is different as I wanted to put a spotlight on a legend and innovator who's birthday was remembered a few days ago....

       Les Paul didn't invent the electric guitar, but his version of it's design, his innovations that brought distinct sounds to popular music, and his actual playing prowess easily gives him the title, "Father of the Electric Guitar". Paul was one who not only had ideas, but loved to tinker with possible solutions to the problem. For instance, when he was a boy, the harmonica was his first instrument. As he learned to play the guitar, he needed a way to hold the harmonica, so as a young teenager, he fashioned a holder for it, that, in it's basic form is the still being used today by artists of all genres.

       In the late 40's he began experiments with overdubbing and, over the years would develop tape delay and phasing effects into his recordings. He was also a groundbreaking guitar player as well, his style and musical licks put him in a class by himself. What is even more extraordinary was the fact that, after a car accident which left him with extensive injuries, including his right arm, he instructed doctors to set his elbow at a permanent 90 degree angle rather than have it amputated. He would never be able to straighten it again.

         "How High The Moon", sung by his then wife Mary Ford, shows off the skill, style, and innovation that would influenced anyone who strapped on an electric guitar. Rock and Roll would not be what it is today without him.....


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