Les Paul, Father of Modern Music

Guitar and recording giant Les Paul passed away recently. I wonder how many realize how important he was to us?

Les Paul died recently.

If you recognize the name, you may think of Les Paul Guitars. Certainly, he was one of the fathers of the electric guitar, and a talented performer.

But Les Paul also pioneered the art of multiple track recordings.

That means, a performer could not only record themselves playing one part, but then rewind and record a second, or third or multiple "tracks" to build a complex layered sound. This advanced music recording into one or a few musicians producing the sound of an entire band.

Les Paul started all that. The seventies duo "The Carpenter" pushed the vocal use of this to the point that we heard dozens of Karen and Richard Carpenters singing "Ahhhh. Close to you" on their hit single.

A little earlier, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass had hit after hit of Herb Albert playing most of the instruments himself, and hiring actors or session musicians to pop in for a song or an instrument, and the all-important cover photo shoot! (It was all him, really.)

The Beatles used this technology to "invent other rooms to go play in", as Paul McCartney is fond of saying. While overlooked, The Beach Boys also were driving in the same direction with multiple tracks and vocals, despite their many performers’ voices singing in harmony.

Eventually, we get to individual performers who create their entire album and sound alone in their basement studio, as "Boston" did with "More than a Feeling".

And "groups" like "Alan Parsons Project" create ten albums with various session musicians, who come in just for a few tracks, and then it's all over to the synthesizer and computer generated instruments to finish the "project".

Now, graduates from Ohio University regularly produce their own demo disc of music, video production or other multiple track recordings FROM THEIR HOME COMPUTER!

All this was started but the innovation of Les Paul and his own simple 12-track recorder.

Quite a legacy. One of the pioneers.

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