Today the Gibson Les Paul is one of the most revered and desirable guitar for rock and blues guitarists worldwide, with prices for an original 1958 Gibson Les Paul being comparable to what you’d pay for a house.
But, what many people do not realized, is that once, the Les Paul guitar wasn’t very popular at all. However, some of the best guitarist ever took Gibson Les Paul to play on that beauty to the front of some of the world’s biggest stages. Below are Top seven crucial moments that made the Gibson Les Paul history and put it on the map.
1. Les Paul plays “How High the Moon” with Mary Ford – 1951
“How High the Moon” was a smash hit in 1951. Great Les Paul is responsible for the first ever memorable appearance of a Gibson Les Paul guitar. His song with wife Mary Ford was a smash hit in 1951, and his guitar playing was simply extraordinaire – Les Paul was basically playing Rock N’ Roll guitar before Rock N’ Roll existed… The song introduced double-tracking, making it one of the most revolutionary recordings of the era.
This was 1951 – after all – before Elvis and before “Rock Around the Clock”. Gibson Les Paul is an instrument that would herald exciting new sounds in the future.
2. Keith Richards becomes first celebrity Les Paul Player in UK – 1964
In the early breakthrough the Gibson Les Paul was soon considered old-fashioned, heavy and too expensive for the time. Other bands and guitars models became much more popular than GLP (Gibson Les Paul) – during the Rock N’ Roll boom in the 50s.
By the early 60s the guitar was considered a “market failure”. In the time – the biggest band in the world The Beatles, loved theirs Gibson acoustics, but their choice of electric guitars was Epiphone, Gretsch and Rickenbackers.
But when in 1964, Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones bought a 1959 Gibson Les Paul – fitted with Bigsby, he became the first celebrity guitarist of the 60s who played on the Les Paul – which introduced the new generation!
3. Eric Clapton invents Hi-Gain Rock N’ Roll with the Bluesbreakers – 1966
Now, when on the stage was set the true revolution – Keith Richards may have been the first celebrity who was Les Paul player, but he played on many different guitars then the Les Paul was just one among his many. What happened next was perhaps the most important moment in the LS history – Eric Clapton’s stellar performance on the John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers’ “Bueno” album.
Clapton in the time have already made a name for himself with The Yardbirds, simply he changed the game by playing on Gibson Les Paul Standard 1959. Inspired by blues guitarist Freddy King, through a Marshall 1962 Combo, now called Marshall 1962 “Bluesbreaker” – he played the most ferocious guitar of the time making full use of the Les Paul’s powerful no-hum humbucking pickups and a cranked Marshall amp.
This was the most heavy – Rock N’ Roll music made ever since… the result from all that: Clapton was nicknamed as “God” and other serious guitarists started to playing on Gibson Les Paul too.
4. Jeff Beck goes one further with The Yardbirds and Jeff Beck Group
Jeff was an unknown player when he replaced Clapton as the Yardbirds’ lead guitarist – and soon became one of the most innovative guitarists in the sixties. One of his main guitars during the era was the Gibson Les Paul.
With his many garage rock, punk and Rock N’ Roll bands, who came after: including The Stooges, White Stripes and even Aerosmith with his Jeff Beck Group, Beck and his Les Paul pretty much “invented” the Led Zeppelin sound.
5. Mike Bloomfield buys a Goldtop Les Paul
Mike Bloomfield who was then lead guitarist with the Paul Butterfield Band, is considered one of the main figures who helped to popularize the Les Paul when he recorded most of their “East West” album with a 1954 GLP Goldtop. His work was simply fantastic.
6. Peter Green takes Fleetwood Mac to the top in 1969
With his 1959 Gibson Les Paul Sunburst, Peter Green was singer-songwriter and lead guitarist of Fleetwood Mack who took them to the top of the UK charts for the first time thanks to songs such as “Oh Well”, “Man of the World”, “Albatross” and “Black Magic Woman”.
The tone of his Les Paul is the stuff of legend and Green is considered one of the masters of the Gibson Les Paul Standard sound, because the special ingredients of his tone giving it an out-of-phase sound.
Gary Moore later bought this guitar, which he called his “Holy Grail”. Thanks to Peter Green (who soon left the band) Fleetwood Mac got a foot on the top of the charts, and went on to become one of the most popular bands ever.
7. Jimmy Page made true symbol of Rock N’ Roll music
By the end of the 60s – several of the most respected guitarists were adept of the Gibson Les Paul. Even, The Beatles at the end used one…
There is no way that the Gibson Les Paul would be left to the sidelines again, but there was still missing one important thing. The guitar was associated with the biggest Rock N’ Roll band in the world, and it finally happened when there no more was The Beatles, soon became clear that the crown had been passed on the Led Zeppelin.
Thanks to Jimmy Page, the Gibson Les Paul was once and for all forever etched in our minds as a true symbol of pure Rock N’ Roll.