Acclaimed guitar player Les Paul died on Wednesday from complications of severe pneumonia at White Plains Hospital in New York. He was 94.
Born Lester William Polsfuss in Waukesha, Wisconsin on June 9, 1915, Paul was already performing publicly as a honky-tonk guitarist by the age of 13. He dropped out of high school at 17 to play in Sunny Joe Wolverton’s Radio Band in St. Louis. His first recordings were done in 1936, and in 1938, he moved to New York to begin his tenure on national radio with Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians.
Paul began constructing his own electric guitar in the late 1930s, and eventually created his own guitar in the 1940s, which would become the template for Gibson’s best-selling electric, the Les Paul model, which was introduced in 1952.