If Les Paul had only invented the solid-body guitar that bears his name, he’d be rock royalty. As an icon, the Gibson Les Paul has few peers. But, Paul also transformed the reel-to-reel given to him by Bing Crosby into the first functioning multitrack recording machine. That innovation in the mid-’40s spurred the development over the next 10-15 years of two-, three-, four-, and eight-track recorders. Oh, and Les was a pretty fair jazz guitarist. All things considered, Les Paul leaves this world at the age of 94 with one of American music’s most towering resumes.
To honor his memory, here’s my favorite song featuring a Les Paul reference.
Here’s linkage to an absolutely essential Les Paul documentary that looks to have been done in the early ’80s:
Following Paul to the great gig in the sky is Memphis producer Jim Dickinson. A maverick badass, Dickinson was the punk rock Jerry Wexler. He worked with the Stones on Sticky Fingers, recorded Big Star’s Third/Sister Lovers, recorded the Mats’ Pleased To Meet Me, played with Dylan, sired the North Mississippi All-Stars, and embraced a punk rock work ethic pretty much from day one. He could’ve sold out, but didn’t. He could’ve moved anywhere, but stayed in Memphis. His appreciation for the old-school R&B and country rhythm section is gospel on the Adios Lounge. All good things come from the pocket. The pocket is holy. Jim Dickinson understood that implicitly. Today, we lost one of the good ones.
Check out the videos below, which feature some priceless quotes:
“Bad music makes you weak.”
“You have to record a lot of bad music to get to the good music.”
“Why should 30 million people like the same thing? It can’t be very good.”
“Rock ‘n’ roll is really all about eighth notes and how they lean. And in punk rock, everybody played them. The bass player, the guitar player, the drummer. You can’t do that in the studio. Somebody has to have the quarters. Somebody has to give up a little space, so you can hear this eighth-note thing happening.”
“Unfortunately, the days of rhythm section recording are over and will never be back. But, that was a beautiful thing to see. To see a song evolve and start to breathe, with space, was truly a beautiful thing.”
Jim Dickinson on Being a Producer in the Digital Age
Jim Dickinson on Making Big Star’s Third/Sister Lovers
Jim Dickinson: Live vs Recorded Performances