I just discovered your tribute site. So far, it is incredible! I will be revisiting it often.
I got the chance to see Les at the Monday night Iridium late show, the January before Les passed away, accompanied by Lou Pallo, an upright bass player, Nicki Parrott, and John Paris guesting. Although I grew up in Paterson, NJ, I now live in Charlottesville, VA, so I drove up for the show. I took my middle son with me (a jazz trumpet player, now also director of Jazz Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University), and he was equally blown away by the show and Les. My son and I gig most weekends, so seeing how Les always stressed the point of playing for the audience kept me focusing on doing that above all else.
I have a pic of him signing the “Chasing Sound” DVD, which I display in my office. While he was signing, I mentioned to him that my son and I drove about 375 miles to see him; he stopped, put his pen down, stood up, reached out with his left hand and grabbed my right and shook it, then said he was very touched that we took that much effort to come to see and hear him. Needless to say, I was as blown away by that as I was by the performance and his schmoozing with the audience!
Quite a reputation you have as well! To have worked with Tom Dowd and all those great Atlantic artists…wow! My brother (now a young 81, 13 years my senior), I mentioned previously, first exposed me to Les and Mary, But also exposed me to “Big” Joe Turner. In my opinion, I have listened to many of Joe’s recordings, but the Atlantic ones are much better to put together, yet not overproduced. Brings out the best in him.
Thank you for taking the time and effort to educate and motivate people with Les’s incredible work ethic and accomplishments. I’ll give more feedback as I revisit the site.
Along with my own father, I don’t know anyone more comfortable in his own skin than your Dad. It makes for a happy person but also makes those around them more comfortable and content...Don’t ya think? I guess that’s called teaching by example!
The book looks like it will be worth buying.
A GREAT FIND. . .
We’re friends on Facebook. I wanted to share a great story involving your Dad (and my Dad).
My Father was at your Fathers house for a visit with some mutual friends. They were walking down a hallway (your Dad was upfront). My Father peeked into a bedroom (the door was open, LOL). He saw a guitar lying on the bed and said what’s that guitar in there, Les? So your Dad walked back, looked, and said, “Oh, that’s a prototype Les Paul. Go ahead and try it.” So my Father is sitting on a bed playing a very rare guitar. Your Father said, “So what do you think, Don?” My Father said, “It’s nice, but I like my Gretsch better.” Your Father said, “Why, you hillbilly bastard!” LOL!
LES' NUMBER ONE
Thanks, Gene, so much for this wonderful trip through Les and Mary’s life. Very inspirational.
I had the chance to meet your dad (and yourself) at the Iridium Club a couple of times. He was so entertaining, and as you pointed out, he would spend time chatting between the guitar playing. He was such a character, and the way he would punk people and throw in a few vulgarities was hilarious. So gracious of him to meet with anyone who stood in line afterward, along with a beer in hand. He was so engaging, and even though I thought I should move on to allow others to meet him, he extended our chat. He even held the guitar my brother-in-law made for me, which I already treasured, but now has extra mojo from your dad! Thanks again for sharing.
SUCH A CHARACTER
Gene, this marvelous production brings back so many wonderful memories for me.
I saw Les Paul and Mary Ford live at the Seville theater in Montreal when I was 17 years old. That was in 1954. It was amazing. I wondered how, with only two people on stage, you could get multiple guitars and multiple voices. People didn't understand. Some thought there were other musicians behind the curtains. That's the miracle of Les Paul's magnificent invention, sound on sound. Add to that the exceptional musical talent of Les and Mary.
I used to stay up till 3 am as a kid listening to Les and amazed at what he did, wondering how he did that at the same time blasted by his music and playing.
My father used to say go to sleep, but I really couldn't get his guitar playing out of my mind. Thank you, Les, for making life so much better with the gift of you and your music and the guitar. Love and respect always, Victor
THE FASCINATION STARTS EARLY
The website telling your Dad's story shows just how much you loved and admired your Dad. If your Dad would have accepted Bing's offer, it would have been a mistake.
The fact that your Dad and his buddies built this studio with devotion and love for music created a magic that would not have happened if he had gone with Bing's offer. It had to come from a place of love for music and friendship to make the magic happen to create such sounds.
Yes, that is my Dad, Tommy, playing drums in your parent's 8 mm movie of the Garage Studio in LA. Thank you so much. Your website is really fantastic, and what a tribute to your Dad and those involved in his life story.
Gene, you just gave me a gift of insight into the past, as well as a Birthday gift to my Sister, Barbara. Tomorrow my Sister is coming over to celebrate her 73rd Birthday at my condo. I plan to surprise her and show her your website, and can't wait to see her reaction when she sees Dad, so young and happy playing his drums. I believe that music is healing and a gift from God. Thank you for giving me a deeper insight into your Dad's vision and learning about parts of his life story I did not know.
I am watching a series about Aretha Franklin called Genius. I knew she was an excellent pianist and had been studying classical music, but I never knew that her Dad had Dinah Washington and Art Tatum at parties and that she would sit with Art Tatum and mimic his runs on the piano as a young girl. He called her the "Wonder Girl." and mimicked Dinah Washington after Dinah would sing first.
My Dad wanted to join your Dad as his Drummer, but because of having a family, he chose a different path. I believe that he should have joined your Dad. The proof I was right was seeing my Dad so happy playing his drums in that film.
Again, Thank You,
THE PIVOTING POINT IN LES' CAREER
Dear Mr. Paul,
I was thinking of your dad today as I was listening to some music from the ’ ’50s…realizing that the sound of those records was possible because of your dad’s desire to experiment.
I remember you saying your dad felt ‘something was lost’ when he used the multi-track machine; he missed the challenge of performing live. That statement struck me as I always seemed to feel a ‘sense of accomplishment’ when I was forced to do this instead of using computers to do the work.
Have a great day!
LIVE RECORDING VERSES MULTI-TRACK RECORDING
FAN'S MEMORIES OF LES