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les paul :: Blog

In the Lab with Les Paul

Friday, May 3: 3 p.m.
Posted by Alana Jansen
Les Paul performs live at the 2008 American Music Masters honoring the famed guitarist

I began my internship at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s Library and Archives expecting to be busy with basic preservation tasks and minor conservation duties, such as creating enclosures for documents and rehousing materials. What I ended up doing instead was much more exciting, and it provided me with a much richer internship experience than I ever imagined.

I began by preparing the conservation lab, creating a conservation policy and expanding on the Library and Archives’ existing conservation manual. With everything in place, it was time to work on the collection most in need of treatment: the Les Paul Papers. The papers were in rough shape at the time of acquisition, as many of the documents and files were moldy and covered in rust from old staples and paper clips. The items with the most obvious mold damage were bagged and placed in quarantine until they could be cleaned, but mold seemed to be everywhere I looked in the collection.

rare Les PaulCleaning mold is not a simple task and requires special care and technique. Wearing personal protective equipment, including gloves, goggles, mask and apron, I carefully cleaned each item in the collection with conservation grade sponges ...


continue Categories: American Music Masters, Hall of Fame, Inductee, Library and Archives, Exhibit

Remembering Jim Marshall

Thursday, April 5: 1:38 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Jim Marshall's gift to rock and roll

The world of rock and roll lost one of its loudest pioneers on Thursday, April 5, 2012, when Jim Marshall died at the age of 88. 

Born in 1923 in West London, Dr. Jim Marshall, OBE, led his namesake amplifier company for the past 50 years, quite literally channeling the sound of rock and roll guitar. Dubbed "the Father of Loud," Marshall holds a singular place in the pantheon of innovators who developed the instruments and tools that provided the earliest rock and roll players the mechanisms needed to shape a once nascent genre. Along with Leo Fender, Seth Lover and Les Paul, Marshall was among the great patriarchs of the rock and roll sound we've grown to appreciate, cheer, love, emulate and worship.

Marshall used earnings from his days as a drum instructor to open a music shop in the early 1960s, where, as the story goes, his customers included such seminal guitarists as the Who's Pete Townshend. He and other budding guitarists in London would plant the seed of an idea for a guitar amplifier that undercut its American counterparts in price and delivered a signature tone not found in the market.

Whereas rival Fender ...


continue Categories: Hall of Fame, Inductee, Today in Rock

American Music Masters Moments: Les Paul

Wednesday, October 26: 2 p.m.
Posted by Jim Henke
Slash and Les Paul at 2008 American Music Masters® event

American Music Masters Moments: Les Paul is the first installment in a series that shares stories from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's American Music Masters® events through the years. Beginning in 1996 with a tribute to Woody Guthrie, the American Music Masters series has honored artists who've been instrumental in the development of rock and roll with a range of events celebrating their careers. Each AMM brings together musicians from around the world, setting the stage for special, once-in-a-lifetime moments. These are those stories. 

From their inception in 1996, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s American Music Masters programs have been sensational, but the one that I have the fondest memories of is the 2008 tribute to Les Paul. One of the great highlights of my job is the fact that I was lucky enough to get to know Les. In 2004, I worked with Les to put together and exhibit The New Sound: Les Paul and the Electric Guitar. When the exhibit opened, Les and his trio came to Cleveland and performed on the main stage in the museum’s lobby. That exhibit is still up on the second floor of ...


continue Categories: American Music Masters, Inductee, Exhibit, Event

Memorializing Les Paul

Tuesday, September 13: 1:51 p.m.
Posted by Jim Henke
Les Paul memorial in Waukesha, Wisconsin

This past Saturday, I was fortunate to be in Waukesha, Wisconsin, to take part in the dedication of a memorial to Hall of Fame inductee Les Paul. The memorial is in Prairie Home Cemetery, where the legendary guitarist is buried. The event was attended by Les’ family and friends, including his son Russ. Michael Braunstein, Les’ longtime manager and the executive director of the Les Paul Foundation, served as the emcee of the event. Others in attendance included Lou Pallo, who played guitar in the Les Paul Trio for almost 30 years, Henry Juszkiewicz, the chairman and CEO of Gibson Guitar, and Ron Sturm, the owner of the Iridium Jazz Club in New York City, where Les played shows every Monday night, from 1995 until his death in 2009.

All of the speakers heaped tons of praise on Les. His son said, “He was a person who hit a lot of hearts,” and that was clear from the commentaries. Lou Pallo said: “He was a genius. He was a great, great, great musician.” Gibson’s Juszkiewicz also called Les a “genius,” and he talked about his inventiveness. Speaking about the house where Les lived in New Jersey, the Gibson CEO ...


continue Categories: American Music Masters, Hall of Fame, Inductee, Exclusive Interviews, Event

The Late, Great Les Paul

Friday, August 21: 5:40 p.m.
Posted by Jim Henke

Terry Stewart, the president and CEO of the Rock Hall, and I just returned from New York City, where we attended a funeral service and memorial reception for the late, great Les Paul. The service, which was held at the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel on Madison Avenue, was very moving. Various family members reminisced about Les, as did Lou Pallo, Les’ longtime guitar sidekick and friend; Ron Sturm, who runs the Iridium Jazz Club, where Les played two shows every Monday night; and Henry Juszkiewicz, the CEO of Gibson Guitar. There were several common themes: how sweet and loving  Les was and how quick-witted he was, always ready to take a jab at someone. Les’ trio – Pallo, bass player Nicki Parrott and piano player John Colianni – performed between the reminiscences, closing the funeral with the very apt “Vaya Con Dios (May God Be With You).” As Les’s son Russ told me, “Les had a very big plate and through his life he filled it with many great things. It’s our job to make sure we continue to share that plate with everyone.” Tony Bennett, Slash, Richie Sambora, Jose Feliciano, Neal Schon, Brad Whitford and Jeff “Skunk” Baxter ...


continue Categories: Other

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee, Les Paul, passes away

Thursday, August 13: 5:45 p.m.
Posted by Jim Henke
Photo from the 2008 American Music Masters tribute concert, courtesy of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fa

It’s a very sad day for everyone who loves music. Les Paul passed away. He was truly one of the greats. He was a great guitar player. He was a great innovator, responsible for the solid-body electric guitar and for multi-track recording. He had an amazing life. He spent 94 years here on earth. And his mind stayed sharp the entire time, and he continued to perform, playing at a New York club every Monday night until recently. I had the privilege to know Les. When we were first working on the Museum, I called him and he told me he was giving all of his things to the Smithsonian. A few years later, he called me and said he was coming to Cleveland to see his doctor and he wanted to see the Hall of Fame. I gave him a tour, and at the end he said, “Jim, you are right. This is where my stuff belongs. If I gave everything to the Smithsonian, I would be lucky if they put one guitar on the wall. And it would probably be next to Judy Garland’s red slippers and no one would care about my guitar.” We then ...


continue Categories: Other, Inductee
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