Update: The influence of Les Paul upon the guitar is incalculable. The man remained a marvel of the instrument until the day he died.
Some years back there was a club that showcased a variety of guitarists. One night at this club a young man was playing the electric guitar like no one there had ever heard it. His tone, his chops, his fretwork—all were amazing. The audience marveled at the young man’s playing.
In the crowd was an old man listening to the young guitarist. After one particularly brilliant piece of guitar work, the old man approached the young guitarist on the stage. The old man complimented the young man on his playing, and asked to play a short piece himself. The young man seemed annoyed, and so asked the crowd if it wanted to hear some old man play the guitar. The crowd laughed at the old man’s request, but the young man went ahead and handed his guitar to the old man. The crowd ignored the old man, and began to chat, order drinks and light cigarettes as the young man sat down.
Then the old man began to play. His first notes grabbed the attention of every person there. Soon the guitar in his hands became a living thing, full of life and joy and beauty. No one said a word. The club became silent as the old man and the guitar seemed to be one being. Some began to weep at the sounds coming from the old man and his guitar. Even the young guitarist stood there silently, and said to himself, “Oh God, if I could only play like that!”
Finally the old man finished. He handed the guitar back to the young man, told him thanks, and began to leave the stage. Then young man asked, “Wait. Who are you? What’s your name?”
The old man turned and smiled. He said, “My name? It’s on your guitar.”