The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee, Les Paul, passes away

Thursday, August 13: 5:45 p.m.
Posted by Jim Henke
Photo from the 2008 American Music Masters tribute concert, courtesy of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fa

It’s a very sad day for everyone who loves music. Les Paul passed away. He was truly one of the greats. He was a great guitar player. He was a great innovator, responsible for the solid-body electric guitar and for multi-track recording. He had an amazing life. He spent 94 years here on earth. And his mind stayed sharp the entire time, and he continued to perform, playing at a New York club every Monday night until recently. I had the privilege to know Les. When we were first working on the Museum, I called him and he told me he was giving all of his things to the Smithsonian. A few years later, he called me and said he was coming to Cleveland to see his doctor and he wanted to see the Hall of Fame. I gave him a tour, and at the end he said, “Jim, you are right. This is where my stuff belongs. If I gave everything to the Smithsonian, I would be lucky if they put one guitar on the wall. And it would probably be next to Judy Garland’s red slippers and no one would care about my guitar.” We then began working together on an exhibit. I would visit him at his home in New Jersey every time I went to New York City. We put together a great exhibit that is still here on the second floor of the Museum. Then, last year, we honored Les as our American Music Master. He will truly be missed.

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