Les Paul leads the Music-Men

Howdy Folks,

In yesterday’s blog, just 24 hours back, I wrote: “Come on music-biz men – don’t be so staid.  Make some news else it’ll be Ladies Night at the Lyrster Monday through Friday!”  Ask, and ye shall receive – so The Good Book tells us – and I have received!  And today we have a legendary rock band, an equally legendary bad boy, and a truly legendary, pioneering past master of the electric guitar.

If you’re in the States and you like Aerosmith, you’re probably drooling after hearing yesterday afternoon’s announcement.  Come June, the 70s rock band will take off on a swing through eighteen cities (mostly in the U.S.) on a continuation of their ‘Global Warming’ Tour after ‘doing’ Japan and South America.  Rooted in the hippy movement, Aerosmith was one of the bands that originated and defined what came to be known as ‘Heavy Metal’, going on to win grammies and international recognition. It may seem like only yesterday to many but lead man Steven Tyler is in his mid-sixties and does double-duty as a venerable and respected judge – on ‘American Idol’!

The late Whitney Houston once lambasted the establishment for having different standards for her then-husband, Bobby Brown, explaining that that was because he was “a b. b. man.”  Well, that “b. b. man” has gone and done it again: got himself into trouble.  For those who don’t know, Bobby Brown is a potent singer in his own right and he was arrested yesterday in California.  A police officer saw him using a mobile-phone while driving and pulled him over.  Thinking that Brown looked soaked, the officer asked him to take an on-the-spot sobriety test, which Brown flunked.  He was arrested on DUI charges and taken to the lockup, from where he was released without bail.

It is equal parts obligatory as it is necessary as it is trite for guitarists to pay homage to and say “I’m Confessin” to influence from Les Paul, who passed away in 2009. I don’t know if Steven Tyler and his bandmates have done so but odds on, one of them has.  As it happens, only a month or two back, while listening to SKY.FM’s Classical & Flamenco Guitar Channel, I casually started a Top Ten Guitarists list.  Les Paul was and is near the top of my list.

A successive hitmaker on Capitol throughout the 50s with Mary Ford, Paul was an experimenter and pioneer on both, the electric guitar and recording techniques.  He shaped modern recording techniques actually, even inventing multi-tracking, reverb, and overdubbing consoles and equipment, not to mention developing his own line of guitars.  Most of his guitar-playing from over half-a-century back is more musical, evocative and thrilling even today than that of other guitarists.  He played some unbelievable licks; you gotta listen to them.  Yesterday, Julien’s Auctions announced an auction of some of Les Paul’s possessions to be held in June, prior to which, the first week of June is set aside for a free exhibition of the legend’s treasures.  Lots include vintage Gibson guitars, an autographed Fender, a Steinway Piano, and Ampex recording machine, with all proceeds going to the Les Paul Foundation.

‘Vaya Con Dios’,

Shane

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