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.
Former Beatle Paul McCartney tries out a custom-made left-handed "Les Paul Lite" guitar presented by Paul himself, in New York City on May 1, 1988. Gibson Guitars began producing the Les Paul guitar in 1952.
Paul and blues guitarist B.B. King put their heads together during a jam session at the third anniversary celebration of the B.B. King Blues Club and Grill in New York's Times Square, June 17, 2003. Paul holds King's signature guitar, "Lucille," which he played.
Paul and Chet Atkins (left) are presented Grammies by Dolly Parton and Freddie Fender at 19th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on Feb. 19, 1977. Paul continued to win awards for his music well into the later years of his life. He was in the hospital in February 2006 when he learned he had won two Grammys for an album released after his 90th birthday, Les Paul & Friends: American Made, World Played.