Guitarist and inventor Les Paul, who has died at the age of 94, once said of the birth of rock’n'roll that, “Suddenly it was recognized power was a very important part of music.” Paul himself helped give bands that power with his “Les Paul” guitar, which he originally designed for the Gibson music company in the early ’50s.
For more than half a century now fretmasters of all musical stripes have made good use of Paul’s invention, from jazzer Al Di Meola to reggae icon Bob Marley. But it had the greatest, and loudest, effect on hard rock. Put a Les Paul guitar in the hands of a rock guitarist and it seems he virtually can’t help but grind out a classic riff or memorable solo. As Guns N’ Roses guitarist and Les Paul devotee Slash told EW a couple of years ago, ”It’s a shame so many kids don’t know about Les. He’s this amazing guitar player with a brilliant mind who pioneered a lot of the electronic wizardry and gadgets, like reverb and delay, that guitarists still use.”
While “kids” (of all ages) may not be all that familiar with Paul, they certainly know the music his instruments created. Below you can find just some of the most famous rock standards to benefit from the late guitar (and guitar-making) wizard — one right here, and five more after the jump. Take a couple of minutes to play a song in honor of the great man. And crank it up. That’s what he would have wanted.