Idols For The Ages Played Gibson Les Pauls
I collect Gibson Les Paul guitars because I believe them to be the high water mark of solid body electric guitar design. They achieved a legendary variety of tones and the “cool” factor that still today, has not been beat.
Nothing sounds quite like a Les Paul. Highly versatile, these guitars can sparkle with brightness and air across all strings in one moment, and roar the dirtiest growl known to Rock and Roll the next.
My collection began as a tribute to the ‘50s era Les Paul produced by Gibson from 1952 through 1960. Ever since then, it’s only been about recapturing the greatness Gibson initially had and lost when they stopped manufacturing the LP in 1960.
When I was growing up, many of my guitar idols played a Gibson Les Paul. Those featured above are just a few but by no means all of them. We could add so many other greats whose contribution to music and the making of the Les Paul what it is today are worthy of many more words. Where would the Les Paul guitar be without the likes of Eric Clapton, Michael Bloomfield, Paul Kossoff, Pete Townsend, Jeff Beck, Peter Frampton, Marc Bolan, Joe Bonamassa and of course its namesake, Mr. Les Paul.
But for me, it all starts with Jimmy Page. No other guitarist has wielded these heavy axes quite the way Page did. Slung down real low, holding the neck at what must be a 65 degree angle, Page’s style, posture and tone defined “cool”.
Page’s style of cool soon found itself in the company of a new, raunchier, glam style of rock rebel characterized by the likes of Johnny Thunders and Mick Ronson.
Johnny Thunders oozed sex and rebellion. He
was every father’s worst nightmare. I couldn’t get enough. And the way he held his guitar combined with his effortless honking blues riffs, makes him an idol for angst ridden teens everywhere for all time.
Mick Ronson was also experimenting with
the glam side of rock and roll, as the guitar behind Ziggy Stardust. A bit more refined than Thunders, Ronson brought an air of class to his taming of the
Around the same time, a new progressive player was out and about, with the look of a Musketeer whose sword was sunburst. Alex Lifeson showed me that LPs can be cool, versatile and progressive.
And then came along a new force of change in the form of a young, lanky, twenty five year old virtuoso. Randy Rhoads played a ’74 white Les Paul Custom and things have never been the same. Randy Rhoads used the Les Paul to introduce a new virtuosity combined with the sublime snarl that Les Pauls are known for.
Finally, no review of great players who made the Les Paul "cool" would be complete without mentioning Saul Hudson A.K.A. Slash, who single handedly revived the LP when all other musicians were turning to Super Strats. So as Jimmy Page was to the Les Paul in the early 1970s, so has become Slash with the Les Paul today.
At least this is my humble opinion. :)