Thursday, September 11, 2008

Les Paul's House, Mahwah, N.J. back in the 80s

Noe the G and the Guitar World crew, composed of John Peden, photographer, Perry Margouleff, guitar maven, Bob Davis, Peter Mengaziol, the techno-wiz, went on a guitar safari to Les Paul's house in Mahwah, NJ, where we got the royal tour of all his wondrous gadgets as we prepared an article about the "Wizard of Waukesha."

When I went back into my files from the days of Guitar World (check those way-cool Les Paul gold-top minis me and Bob Davis are holding), there was one snap I couldn't find. It was a gathering for Les Paul Tuesdays (at Fat Tuesdays downtown Manhattan) that pre-dated the Iridium sessions you see chronicled in this awesome shot (see previous blog entry below) by my Flickr mate "Big Frank" Caico ( on August 24, 2008 here -- just use this URL:

The snapshot I was looking for was from this incredible night of music attended by all the illustrious fans of Les, with Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page -- two original Yardbirds -- among them.

The interesting thing about it was that Beck and these other guys chose to just hang out and talk amongst themselves, but Jimmy Page was effusive in his homage to Les.

You see, Jimmy Page worshipped the ground Les walked on. In an encounter with the man at his hotel room at the fabled Plaza not much before the fab night at Fat Tuesday's, Jimmy demonstrated this filial adulation. The room was darkly lit, there was a faint smell of incense about ... coming from a little shrine Jimmy had set up on the dresser. There, festooned with all manner of shamanistic geegaws and bathed in a sepulchral light, was a framed picture of the immortal Les Paul!!

You see, Jimmy not only played a Les Paul -- he was in constant thrall of one.

I have no doubt that when the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame honors Les on November 15, that Jimmy Page will be there.

Right after I posted this I googled "Wizard of Waukesha," which is not only the title of a documentary about the man, but also the name of a tribute November 15 to this all-time genius:

Electric-guitar pioneer Les Paul has been chosen as the honoree for the 13th annual American Music Masters series, presented by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Case Western Reserve University and Gibson Guitar Corp.

"Les played a big role in the pervasiveness of the guitar in popular music and in rock 'n' roll particularly," said Terry Stewart, president and CEO of the Rock Hall.

Paul's search for "this golden sound" changed the course of music history, Stewart said.

"The Wizard of Waukesha: The Life and Legacy of Les Paul" is set to culminate at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 15, with a tribute concert at Playhouse Square's State Theatre in Cleveland.

Here's a more recent pic of Les from that story:

Now, you may think my own homage to Les would end here, but no ... it wouldn't be Doctor Noe's Smooth Gadget without a personal reference. Here it is:

Just as I was editing and adding this link to the Les Paul Tribute Nov. 15 ( it happened.

Now, here's the real bizarrity of this story: I was cruising around YouTube and I found this cool performance by Les at the Iridium club in New York City from July 7, 1997 and guess what? I was there!!!! you can tell (if you know me) by my distinctive laugh at 1:24 into the track.

I wish I could add my voice to the laugh track in Cleveland come Nov. 15.


Of course, this is about Gibsons, but Peden and I did a lot of hard travelin' on our guitar safaris, notably our adventure with Roy Buchanan, whose story (and beloved guitar) is hinted at here: Roy Buchanan's Telecaster named Nancy on Flickr.

You could do worse than to buy my DVD, produced and directed by Noe the G and filmed by John Peden. Find out more about it here on Noë’s blog:


Leslie F. Miller said...

I have not found the lure of the Les Paul, except for it beauty, but then I've not much experience with it. I suppose they are nifty as electrics go, though I can dig a fat hollow body Gibson a little more.

This is an interesting blog. I'm gonna have to teach you about making links in your words, so there's not all that pesky code to interfere with such good writing. It's passionate. That's the best part.

I might have to pick your brain later for my book proposal.

BillyWarhol said...

my god yer Rock n Roll History is unbelievable Dude*

I was Lucky enuf to see Page + Plant - Jimmy Page blew me away*

also seeing Stevie Ray Vaughan join Eric Clapton for his Encore in Detroit at Pontiac Silverdome was something I'll never forget*

Rock On Dude!!

Cheers!! Billy ;)) Peace*