John Mayer, Slash, Keith Urban Mourn Guitar God Les Paul

Innovative guitarist and trail-breaking inventor was architect of contemporary music

By Josh Grossberg Aug 13, 2009 6:55 PMTags
Keith Urban, Les PaulTheo Wargo/Getty Images

The original guitar hero has played his last riff.

Les Paul, the genius performer and inventor whose trademark electric guitar changed the face of music, died today in a New York hospital of complications from pneumonia. He was 94.

"Remembering Les Paul today. Just happened to have his namesake Gibson around my shoulder the last few days," tweeted John Mayer, who posted a picture of his beloved ax.

"Les Paul was a shining example of how full one's life can be; he was so vibrant and full of positive energy," said Slash, who called Paul "my friend & mentor."

Keith Urban said he was "deeply saddened" at the news, but that Paul's spirit will be "very present every time I set foot in the studio."

Born Lester William Polfuss, the genre-bending Paul played with and made instruments for a who's who of guitar slingers, including Jimmy Page, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Bruce Springsteen, Jeff Beck, Joe Satriani, Eddie Van Halen, Paul McCartney, Pete TownshendRichie Sambora, Dire Straits' Mark Knopfler, ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons and Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong, along the way racking up Grammys and a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Sambora hailed him as "the father of the electric guitar [and] to me he's just a dear, dear friend."

Added Satriani: "Last October I joined him onstage at The Iridium club in NYC, and he was still shredding. He was and still is an inspiration to us all."


The silencing of a legend is sad, but his influence is deafening. E! Online has the scoop on Jack White's new band.