The Father of The Electric Guitar is Gone!

Do you have any idea how important the inventon of the electric guitar was to the growth of all forms of modern American music Everything from BLUES...ROCK...JAZZ, COUNTRY WESTERN, FOLK and every form inbetween has relied on The ELECTRIC GUITAR. In fact each form hasbeen defined and refined by this one purely American musical instrument.

But, Did you know that the ELECTRIC GUITAR is less than 70 years old, and was developed by a rather quiet but consumate musician who was essentially a COUNTRY WESTERN PERFORMER. His...............LES PAUL!

Les Paul (1915-2009)

With apologies to Hendrix and Clapton, inventor and musician Les Paul, who died Wednesday at 94, was the most influential rock guitarist ever — even though he was only tangentially involved in rock. Paul was important not just for his instrumental virtuosity, but also for his groundbreaking studio developments and creation of the Gibson solid-body guitar that bears his name, the quintessential rock instrument made famous by such legends as Clapton, Duane Allman, Jimmy Page and Eddie Van Halen.

Paul, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 by guitarist Jeff Beck, died in White Plains, New York, from complications of pneumonia. At the Capitol Records building in Hollywood, where Paul helped develop state-of-the-art recording studios beginning in 1948, the flag was lowered to half-mast.
Les Paul's life in photos: Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen and more stars with the father of the electric guitar.

Shortly after news of his death hit the Web on Thursday, Facebook and Twitter feeds lit up with tributes. Slash, whom Paul referred to last year as a "dear friend," tweeted that the guitar innovator "was one of the most stellar human beings I've ever known."

Gary Rossington, the Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist whose fiery Les Paul licks help bring "Free Bird" to its chaotic climax, thinks about Paul every time he steps in front of an audience. "I play a Les Paul guitar every night," said Rossington, whose admiration for Paul doesn't stop when he leaves the stage. "I have a framed T-shirt on my wall signed by Les Paul. He was an amazing guitarist."

Derek Trucks remembers playing at Paul's 90th birthday concert at Carnegie Hall in 2005. "We had some great musical moments," said Trucks. "We did an instrumental version of 'Goodnight Irene.' He was always a really sweet guy."
More guitar greats on Paul's career.

By all accounts, Paul was humble about his importance to music and admired his fellow musicians, regardless of their age. "I learn from them, I enjoy them," he told Rolling Stone's Andy Greene in an unpublished interview last November. "If I'm around the rock guys, I enjoy playing along with them. When I'm with the jazz people, I enjoy playing jazz."

Hear Les Paul in his own words: excerpts from his final RS interview.
As a musician, Paul played a smooth but daring mixture of jazz and country. In addition to inventing his famous solid-body guitar in 1941, he developed studio techniques throughout the Thirties and Forties that are still used in music today, including delay and echo effects, as well as overdubbing and multitracking. His experimentation paved the way for such groundbreaking works as the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heats Club Band and Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, as well as almost every pop song on the charts today.

He formed the Les Paul Trio in the late Thirties, playing alongside stars like Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters. By the late Forties, he and former wife Mary Ford began recording together, and throughout the Fifties scored a string of Top 10 hits for Capitol including "The Tennessee Waltz," "Mockingbird Hill" and "Vaya con Dios."

Born Lester William Polfuss on June 9, 1915, in Waukesha, Wisconsin, he learned the harmonica at age eight but soon moved on to the banjo and then guitar. All along, he invented devices to improve his instruments, like making a pickup to amplify his acoustic guitar. During his teens he played professionally with country bands and recorded hillbilly songs under the name Rhubarb Red. He also liked the jazzier style of guitarist Django Reinhardt, and after forming the Les Paul Trio in 1936, moved to New York City, where the Trio backed singers like Crosby and became regulars on Fred Waring's Pennsylvanians radio show.

How High the Moon

Paul kept tinkering with new ways to make a guitar sound different, and by the early Forties had created a solid-body electric guitar that could prolong a single note, making it sound like a horn. Called "The Log," it was the precursor to his Gibson Les Paul guitar. He then began working on new studio techniques: putting microphones close to individual instruments to reduce noise and help separate specific sounds, playing and recording along with other recordings to create multiple tracks. By the late Fifties, he had invented an eight-track recording machine that would pave the way for producers like George Martin, who created much of the Beatles' mid-Sixties works using Paul's multitrack technology.

After a car accident in 1948 left Paul with a severe shoulder injury, he designed a guitar that allowed him to continue playing. That year, he and Ford released the hit " Brazil," a song that included six multitracked guitar parts. The following year, he launched a radio show and invented an effects-generating synthesizer called the "Les Paulverizer," whose technology is still used onstage by bands today.
Les Paul recalls inventing his solid-body electric guitar in a 1975 Rolling Stone Q&A.

Vaya Con Dios

His recording career with Ford flowered in the Fifties, and Paul was soon hired by the Gibson guitar company to design a new instrument. Introduced in 1952, his Gibson Les Paul was a variation on "The Log," but its sleek design had much more aesthetic appeal. "We had a monster," said Paul. "We had something that could really, really be powerful." A monster, indeed — it was so loud and so pretty that it eventually made its way into the hands of blues-rock pioneer Clapton and remains a staple of hard rock today, used by artists like Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day, Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield of Metallica and U2's The Edge.

I really Don’t Want to Know!

After divorcing Ford in 1964, Paul focused on his guitar designs, and continued creating effects and amplification devices. He performed occasionally, and in 1976 recorded the Grammy-winning Chester and Lester along with fellow guitar virtuoso Chet Atkins. In 1981, after undergoing heart bypass surgery, he began performing more regularly at jazz festivals and in New York clubs, with famous guests like Paul McCartney or Tony Bennett sometimes sitting in with him. In 2005, at age 90, Paul recorded American Made, World Played with a string of guests including Clapton, Beck and Keith Richards. The album won Grammy awards for best pop instrumental performance and best rock instrumental performance.

When asked last year if Paul thought he'd still be playing at 100, he said, "As long as the people put up with me, and I'm having fun doing it, why not do it?"'
The World Is Waiting!
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Comment by Edie Antoinette on August 16, 2009 at 4:27am
Great job on this Ron!
Comment by Ronn Nichols on August 16, 2009 at 1:02am
He was indeed...........there are a couple of those TV appearances in the Blog above. I hope you liked them.
Comment by Boo on August 15, 2009 at 11:02pm
I think I saw them on tv a couple of times. I remember hearing he was a good guitar player.Sorry to hear that he is no longer with us.
Comment by Ronn Nichols on August 15, 2009 at 9:28pm
Thanks Dear! How are you!

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Spotlight | Maze

  1. play Maze — 03 Feel That You're Feelin'
  2. play Maze — 04 Somebody Else's Arms
  3. play Maze — 04 Southern Girl
  4. play Maze — Can't Get Over You
  5. play Maze — Golden Time Of Day
  6. play Norman Brown — Night Drive
  7. play Norman Brown — Feeling
  8. play Norman Brown — Still
  9. play Miles Davis — miles 1
  10. play miles 2
  11. play miles 3
  12. play miles 4
  13. play miles 5
  14. play Marvin Gaye — I Met A Little Girl
  15. play Santana — 01 Singing Winds, Crying Beasts
  16. play Santana — 02 Black Magic Woman-Gypsy Queen
  17. play Mongo — 02. Afro Blue

The history of the Butlers/Raw Soul is dense, but for all of us music nerds, that's normal. It is not totally clear what year the Butlers actually formed but they released their first single in 1963 on Liberty Records. That single was "She Tried To Kiss Me" and another single followed on Guyden entitled "Lovable Girl." After the Guyden single the Butlers took a break not recording another record until the single "Laugh, Laugh, Laugh" was released on the Phila label in 1966. The group also backed Charles Earland and Jean Wells on one Phila single ("I Know She Loves Me"). 

As you might be noticing, the Butlers were doing a fair amount of recording but not achieving much success. The group's recordings sold regionally but never had the promotion to make an impact on the national scene. After the single with Phila, the Butlers moved to the Fairmount label (part of the Cameo-Parkway family) and released a handful of singles, some being reissued singles of the past. The Butlers were with Fairmount for 1966-67 and then moved to Sassy Records. Sassy released the group's greatest single (in my opinion) "Love (Your Pain Goes Deep)" b/w "If That's What You Wanted." A copy of that 45 sold for just under $500 last summer on eBay. Even though that isn't that much in the world of record collecting--it's still a hefty sum. The Butlers released another single on Sassy ("She's Gone" b/w "Love Is Good") that appears to be even 
harder to come by then the "Love (Your Pain Goes Deep)" single.


The true history become a bit blurred here as the AMG biography states that the Butlers last record was released on C.R.S. in 1974 (". However, between 1971 and that single, Frankie Beverly formed a group called Raw Soul and released a number of singles. Some of the songs recorded by Beverly during this period are "While I'm Alone," "Open Up Your Heart," (both on the Gregor label) and "Color Blind." "Color Blind" was released by the Eldorado label and rerecorded by Maze. Beverly's big break came when Marvin Gaye asked Raw Soul to back him on a tour. Gaye helped Beverly/Raw Soul get a contract at Capitol. Beverly decided to take the group in a different direction, a name change occurred, and Maze was created. 

The above isn't the most complete history of Beverly but hopefully someone will know a way to get in touch with the man or his management because a comprehensive pre-Maze history needs to be done on Frankie Beverly (his real name is Howard, by the way). Below you'll find every Frankie Beverly (pre-Maze) song available to me right now ("Color Blind" will be up soon). 

If you have a song that is not included below, shoot it over to funkinsoulman (at) and it will go up in the next Frankie Beverly post (later this week--highlighting Maze). Also, if you have any more information please share your knowledge. The Butlers material has been comp-ed sporadically (usually imports) but the entire Maze catalog has been reissued and is available. 

Enjoy.  "She Kissed Me" (Fairmount, 1966 or 1967) 
 "I Want To Feel I'm Wanted" (not sure which label or year) "Laugh, Laugh, Laugh" (Phila, 1966) "Because Of My Heart" (Fairmount, 1966 or 1967)
 "Love (Your Pain Goes Deep)" (Sassy, 1967)
 "If That's What You Wanted" (Sassy, 1967)

Frankie Beverly is one of those cats that has lasting power. He started in the music business doing a tour with doo wop group the Silhouettes and then formed his own group called the Blenders. The Blenders never recorded a single, Beverly wouldn't appear on wax until forming the Butlers a few years later. Along with Beverly, the Butlers included Jack "Sonny" Nicholson, Joe Collins, John Fitch, and Talmadge Conway.

Beverly would later enjoy great success fronting Maze and Conway would become a
well-known penning Double Exposure's
"Ten Percent" and the Intruders' "Memories Are Here To Stay." 
 While Maze is a phenomenal group, Beverly's work before that group will always stand out as his best (imo).

The Butlers produced tunes that most Northern Soul fans would kill for and Raw Soul gave the funksters something to pursue. If, by chance, you know of a way to get in touch with Frankie Beverly or his management, please drop me an e-mail. It would be absolutely great to do an interview with him about his pre-Maze work. He's still playing out, most recently doing a New Year's Eve show in Atlanta.
:: Funkinsoulman ::

Power...Through Simplicity ♪♫♪



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