Les Paul was given the name Lester William Polsfuss at birth by parents Evelyn and George and he is from Milwaukee in Waukesha, Wisconsin. His family had been of German origins and his mom was related to the pioneers of Valentin Blatz Brewing Company in Milwaukee and also the manufacturers of the Stutz Bearcat automobile. The Prussian name has been initially simplified to Polfuss by his mother before he adopted Les Paul as his stage name. He also utilized nicknames of Rhubarb Red and Red Hot Red.
Whilst residing in Wisconsin, Paul first showed interest in music from a tender age of eight and started playing a harmonica. Following an attempt to learn how to play the banjo, the guitar became his new instrument. It had been during this period that he designed a holder for his harmonica to wear around the neck and this made it possible for him to play hands-free whilst using the guitar as an accompaniment. Paul’s instrument is still created utilizing this basic design.
When he was thirteen years old, Paul started performing as a guitarist, country music singer and a harmonica player semi-professionally. When he was 17, he played along with Rube Tronson’s Texas Cowboys and shortly after he left high school to become a member of Wolverton’s Radio Band in St. Louis.
In 1934, he migrated to the city of Chicago where he carried on his performance on radio. In 1936, he released his first two recordings. One had been attributed to Rhubarb Red, his hillbilly alter-ego and the other had been as an accompanist for Georgia White, who is a blues artist. It was in this period that he started to play jazz and then acquired his stage name.
Les Paul’s guitar jazz style had been strongly inspired by Django Reinhardt music, who he admired tremendously. After The Second World War, Paul looked for and became friend with Reinhardt. Among his treasured possessions had been a Selmer Maccaferri acoustic guitar that he received from Reinhardt’s widow.
He formed a group in 1937 along with Jim Atkins who as a singer/rhythm guitarist and Ernie Newton, who as a percussionist/bassist. The trio left Chicago and went to New York during 1939 and landed a featured spot on Fred Waring’s radio show, Pennsylvanians.
Paul had been unhappy with the acoustic electric guitars and started experimenting at his Queens apartment with some of his own designs. Notoriously, he designed numerous designs of The Log and this was simply a length of 4 x 4 lumbers having a bridge, attach pickup and a guitar neck. In the interest of visual appeal, he connected the body of one of the Epiphone hollow guitar, which was sawn length-wise having The Log in the center. This resolved his two major issues: feedback, since the acoustic body was not resonated with an amplified sound and keep up, since the power of the strings wasn’t dissipated in creating sound throughout the body of the guitar.
These instruments had been continuously improved upon and altered through the years and Les Paul continued to utilize them when doing his recordings even after he created the legendary Gibson model.
Source by Colin Scott