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Friday, August 14, 2009

A Giant Falls: Les Paul 1915-2009

The Wizard of Waukesha, Hot Rod Red, Rhubarb Red, Lester William Polsfuss, inventor extraordinaire and master musician, the man best known as Les Paul, has walked off the stage at age 94, a pretty damn good run. At various stages in his career, Paul played with or backed Rudy Vallee, Kate Smith, Bing Crosby, the Andrews Sisters, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Chet Atkins, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, and Jeff Beck, His life essentially paralleled the development of American pop music over seven decades.

And of course, there was his collaboration with Mary Ford, née Collen Summers, whose name Paul changed by skimming through a telephone book after deciding that her birth name didn't scan correctly when billed with "Les Paul."

The Theme Time Radio Hour team missed several opportunities to play their hits. "Mockingbird Hill" would have been perfect for either of the "Bird" shows from Season 2 (maybe with two "Mockingbird" songs already on the "More Birds" playlist, a third was thought overkill), and "Vaya Con Dios" would have fit nicely into the final show. But we did get “How High the Moon,” featured in Season One's "Moon" show.

Les Paul's full obituary is here.

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