Can you hear me now? That wasn’t initially the case for Lester Polsfuss, better known as Les Paul (1915-2009), who began entertaining at age 17.
When he first began his musical career, audience members in the back complained they couldn’t hear his guitar. That prompted Paul to think, tinker, experiment, and innovate. The rest, they say, is history.
Les Paul’s Many Social Innovations
Paul went on to invent the solid-body electric guitar and to become an iconic guitar player. Millions have enjoyed both his music and his social innovation ever since. He is the only individual inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the National Inventors Hall of Fame.Les Paul, the only social innovator in 3 Hall of Fames. See which ones through the link. Click To Tweet
In 1952, The Gibson Guitar Company introduced the Les Paul electronic guitar. Today, the guitar is one of the world’s most recognized and respected guitars.
Also, Les Paul was a pioneer in new recording techniques that have become the norm. This includes multi-track recording, delay, echo, reverb and phasing effects, and overdubbing innovations. He experimented with and innovated electric guitar sounds and effects as they related to the mechanics of sounds.
Appreciating Les Paul
Anyone who enjoys music can appreciate Les Paul’s creative spirit and social innovation, which changed and enhanced popular music forever. Today, you can visit Les Paul’s House of Sound and its interactive displays in Discovery World in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Paul’s birth state.
Another way to appreciate Paul is to visit his hometown of Waukesha, Wisconsin which is an official Gibson Guitar Town. Waukesha, Wisconsin celebrates Paul’s social innovation in numerous ways, including 10 foot decorated guitars throughout town.
And if you really want to recognize his enduring impact, you can visit Paul’s gravesite in the Prairie Home Cemetery in Waukesha. If you do happen to visit, those who do typically leave a guitar pick as a tribute to his inspiration.
3 Ways to Participate in Les Paul-style Social Innovation
Want to do more to honor the memory of his music legend and to better understand and share his innovative thinking?
Participate in the Les Paul Big Sound Experience the next time it comes to a city near you.
Consider contributing to the Les Paul Foundation. The Foundation supports music engineering and sound programs for youth, medical research related to hearing impairment, and music related scholarships. They invite to you to “Pledge to Invent.”
Rock legends urge supporters and fans to “pledge to invent.”
Lastly, learn about the Social Impact Graduate Online Program at Claremont Lincoln University to learn how to make a social innovation of your own. Because there just might be a little Les Paul in us all.