I've just heard that Les Paul has died.
The Internet will be alive with stories over the next few hours, days and weeks- so here's just one of mine...
Sometime in the mid 1980's I walked into a guitar shop; it was on the Cowley Road just outside of Uxbridge, and even though I can't for the life of me remember what it was called (it went through various names during it's time there and I'm not sure what it was called on the day in question) that otherwise nondescript day literally changed my life.
There were 2 Gibson Les Paul guitars on the wall- one was a cherry red Standard, the other a gold top Deluxe. I'd not seen their like in the shop before, but I remember the blur of anticipation and excitement that I felt as I walked to the counter and said something like 'hello Phil- I'll buy some stuff in a minute, but... where did they come from?!?'
Phil (he was behind the counter) said something along the lines of 'hello Leigh, (he was always very friendly- I wonder what happened to him..?) well they're both mine actually, I'm selling one of them, whichever one of them sells first, to buy a Gallien Krueger combo- you know, one of the new ones?'
Well as it happened I didn't- but I did know what a Les Paul Deluxe was.
I asked to try it- after playing just a couple of chords on it I knew that it was, is, and is very likely to be, in my not-so-humble opinion, the best guitar that I will ever play. To cut a long-ish story very short, I ended up buying it. Thank God.
Have you any idea how much that instrument means to me? That's it in the picture you can see in the top right hand corner of this blog page; it was played at virtually every Price gig, will be played at any future Price gig, and if you see me playing in Windsor tomorrow evening you'll see me using it then, as even though it's not the most appropriate instrument for a Chicago Blues Brothers show, it'll be the only guitar that I can possibly use tomorrow. It's the least that I can do, don't you think?
Well, that's one of the things that Les Paul did for me, but there are a lot more.
Read the obituaries and tributes- we will not see his like again. Thanks Les, from us all.