“The Early Years of the Les Paul Legacy 1915-1963” by Robb Lawrence: When you say the name Les Paul, most people can easily make the connection between the artist and his pioneering efforts with the electric guitar.
But there’s plenty more of substance and interest to uncover about the guitar wizard from Waukesha, Wis. For instance, Paul took up the harmonica and the piano before he found his true musical love, the guitar. The curious young artist loved to take stuff apart; he once disassembled a vacuum cleaner and used its motor to run a player piano. And, his innovations with the axe included a log guitar he made in 1941.
Looking back now at the legacy Les Paul has built as a recording innovator and guitar designer, these early feats probably don’t come as a huge surprise. But these stories are fun to read, as they hint at the skilled star Paul was to become.
This book, which is intended to be the first of a two-volume set, includes tons of photos, interviews with other guitarists and a lot of stories and sidebars, as well as vintage ads, photos, sketches and even patent applications. Regardless if you can ever afford the Les Paul collector guitars that are showcased on the pages, it’s easy to appreciate their beauty.
Even if you’re not a fan of Les Paul’s playing, this book is a pleasurable and interesting coffee table read.
Hardcover, 287 pages, $40. Hal Leonard, www.halleonard.com