Guitarist, inventor, and technical genius Les Paul (who lent his name to a fairly popular guitar) was introduced to singer Mary Ford by Gene Autry in 1946. They were married in 1949 and divorced in 1964, ending their collaboration. In between, they had 16 top ten hits, beginning in 1950. They also starred in an interstitial (a short TV program that plays between longer ones) in 1954-1955 called “Les Paul and Mary Ford At Home.” Our local religious broadcaster, who plays a lot of old TV programs most evenings, has a collection of them, and they’re pretty enjoyable. A couple of examples here.
Here Les plays and Mary sings “The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise,” which reached #2 in 1951. A collection of their hits, The World Is Still Waiting For The Sunrise, was released in 1974, and I understand a lot of rockers went out and bought it, and were disappointed that there was no rock & roll on it…
Later in 1951, Les and Mary released “How High The Moon,” which found itself at the top of the charts. Mary’s vocal is multitracked. Les was one of the first people to experiment with eight-track recording, and they recorded this in their garage, where he had set up a studio. They didn’t call him “The Wizard Of Waukesha” for nothing…
There are a lot of the TV shows on YouTube as well as other film clips of them performing together, where you can see that Mary was no slouch on the guitar herself.
Les Paul and Mary Ford, your Two for Tuesday, December 19, 2017.
Les Paul is one of my guitar heroes. Not so much for his playing, which was outstanding and innovative, but for the many things he invented, primarily the Gibson guitar that bears his name, the first solid-body electric guitar. Nearly every guitar player of note has played either a Gibson Les Paul or a Fender Stratocaster at some point in his career. But Les’s innovations go far beyond his guitar: he designed the echo chambers used by Capitol Records on their high-end recordings, as well as a technique for multitrack recording in the studio and “the Paulverizer,” an effects box that allows him to reproduce the sound he got in the studio in live concerts. So, when he says that there are no rules for originality, I tend to believe him. As a friend of mine said recently, creativity is becoming familiar with the rules, then messing with the vocabulary.
One-Liner Wednesday is sponsored by Linda Hill, who has the rules and list of other participants at her blog.
We’ve been doing acts from the British Invasion here, I know, but I’m going to do an extra one today: Les Paul, for two reasons:
- It would be his 100th birthday today, and
- His contributions to popular music, including the Gibson guitar that bears his name, the echo, and multitrack recording, added more to the British sound than anything.
So, here are a couple by Les, who was as great a guitarist as he was an inventor. First is “The World is Waiting for the Sunrise,” with wife Mary Ford, on one of their five-minute TV shows in the 1950’s. The second is a live performance of “How High The Moon,” in which Les demonstrates “the Paulverizer,” a device that allowed him to do multitracking live.
Les, Happy Birthday, and thanks for all the music and all you did for it.