In Friday’s (8/14) New York Times, Jon Pareles writes, “Les Paul, the virtuoso guitarist and inventor whose solid-body electric guitar and recording studio innovations changed the course of 20th-century popular music, died Thursday in White Plains. He was 94. The cause was complications of pneumonia, the Gibson Guitar Corporation announced. Mr. Paul was a remarkable musician as well as a tireless tinkerer. He played guitar with leading prewar jazz and pop musicians from Louis Armstrong to Bing Crosby. In the 1930s he began experimenting with guitar amplification, and by 1941 he had built what was probably the first solid-body electric guitar, although there are other claimants. … Seeking to create electronically sustained notes on the guitar, he attached strings and two pickups to a wooden board with a guitar neck. ‘The log,’ as he called it, was probably the first solid-body electric guitar and became the most influential one. … With no acoustic resonance of its own, it was designed to generate an electronic signal that could be amplified and processed—the beginning of a sonic transformation of the world’s music.”

Posted August 14, 2009