Here are some highlights from his life and career:

Les and his Mother

Evelyn Polfuss

Lester William Polfuss


Father George Polfuss

Time Line

1915 - Lester William Polsfuss is born in Waukesha, Wisconsin, on June 9.

1927 - Les gets his first guitar from the Sears & Roebuck catalog.

1932 - Les drops out of high school to join Sunny Joe Wolverton in Saint Louis.

1934 - Les changes his stage name from Rhubarb Red to Les Paul.

1938 - Les moves to New York City and joins Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians on NBC radio.

1941 - Les invents the “log,” his first solid-body electric guitar. Later that year he is badly injured  

                    when he receives an electric shock in his studio.     

1943 - Les moves to Los Angeles to pursue his dream of working with Bing Crosby.

1945 - Les meets Colleen Summers (who is later known as Mary Ford).

1947 - Les introduces multi-tracking to the world with the release of “Lover.”

1948 - Les is badly injured when his car skids off a bridge in a snowstorm on US Route 66.

1949 - Les marries singer Mary Ford.

1950 - The Les Paul Show, featuring Les and Mary, debuts on NBC Radio.

1951 - “How High the Moon” becomes a number one hit.

1952 - Gibson Guitar Company introduces the Les Paul goldtop solid-body electric guitar.

1952 - Les and Mary move to New Jersey and start making the TV series Les Paul and Mary Ford

                    at Home, which debuts in October 1953.

1953 - “Vaya Con Dios” becomes a number one hit.

1953 - Ampex produces the first 8-track tape recorder, based on Les’s design.

1957 - The first Ampex 8-track recorder, installed in Les Paul's home studio.

1964 - Les and Mary divorce.

1965 - Les retires from performing.

1972 - Les comes out of retirement when he fills in for a friend at a New York nightclub.

1975 - Les performs at Carnegie Hall.

1976 - Les and Chet Atkins release the album Chester and Lester, which wins a Grammy Award for

                    Best Country Instrumental Performance.

1980 - Les has heart bypass surgery.

1983 - Les receives the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

1984 - Les begins a regular Monday night gig at Fat Tuesday’s.

1988 - Les is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

1996 - Les begins a regular Monday night gig at iridium after Fat tuesday’s closes.

2001 - Les receives a Technical Grammy.

2005 - Les is inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and

                    the Grammy Hall of Fame.

2005 - Les records Les Paul & Friends, his first album in 30 years. He receives Grammy awards for

                    2 of its songs including Best Pop Instrumental Performance for “Caravan” and Best Rock

                    Instrumental for “69 Freedom Special.”

2007 - Les receives the National Medal of Arts from President George W. Bush.

2008 - Les Paul’s House of Sound exhibit opens at Discovery world in Milwaukee.

Born Above His Fathers Garage

The House He Was Raised In


A Les Paul Quote