There will be a lot of posts on Les Paul by people who are better equipped to write them than I could ever be. Yet, as I can't think about anything else right now it seemed like I should get on here and tell a little story.
When I was 18 I hung out at a place in New York City called Tramps a lot. They had tons of really incredible bands there, from legendary acts who usually played bigger places to some of the most talented new discoveries. The place itself wasn't anything special but the moment the music started it was magical, an intimate environment that was all about music. It was also very special to be able to be there at the moment when I was all about musical discovery whether it was the best of the past or the future, which dovetailed very nicely with their lineup. Sometimes you really are in just the right place at just the right time.
After Danny Gatton's suicide they held a tribute to him with mind-blowing musicians volunteering their skills to benefit his family. I caught every drop of music of every night of it and could write a whole book about the experience but one memory trumps them all.
I was alone there and killing time before the music started by browsing the merch table. An older man walked up to the table and we started talking about the most mundane things. It turned out I grew up one town away from where he'd been living for years so we actually found so much to chat about that we never even introduced ourselves. It was a great conversation, the kind I would remember forever even if the next events of the night hadn't happened.
After awhile he said he had to go backstage, so I wandered over to the soundboard area to listen to the music that was now in full swing. My friend ran up to me and said, "You'll never guess who's not only here but is actually going to play a few songs! Les Paul!" I had, of course, heard Les Paul but only on records, so I was extremely excited at that moment. The music stopped and the very man who I'd enjoyed talking to so much walked out on stage with his signature guitar! I had no idea I'd been talking to a legend.
Oh, and the music - just so wonderful!
I ended up living right near the Iridium for awhile, so I went to see him whenever I could, but nothing can compare to those first moments of hearing his guitar sing. I have also ended up meeting quite a few musicians since then and, while many of those became people dear to my heart and Les Paul was barely an acquaintance, he touched my heart so deeply in such a brief time that he will always have a place in it.
We are so blessed that a mind that fine turned itself to music and that we did get to have him with us for such a very long time. It still feel like the whole world was robbed today, though.