Les Paul tinkers with a control board at his New Jersey home in December 1963. Paul died Aug. 13.
Les Paul tinkers with a control board at his New Jersey home in December 1963. Paul died Aug. 13. Dan Grossi/AP
Guitarist and inventor Les Paul — who invented the device that made the electric guitar possible — died Aug. 13 at the age of 94.
Paul's contributions to rock 'n' roll went well beyond one gadget. He designed guitars — vintage models were selling for thousands of dollars even before news of his death came — and made the first multi-track recorder. He introduced innovations that established the recording studio itself as a legitimate musical instrument. And in doing so, he shaped much of the genre's sound.
He was himself a gifted musician, moreover, with his own radio and TV shows and many a Top 40 hit in the mid-century years. Fresh Air remembers him with an archived interview from 1992.