Saturday, October 16, 2010 A
"Marvelous Musician"

Musicians, 1938
Phillip C. Curtis, American, 1907-2000
Tempera on illustration board
Gift of the Phillip C. Curtis Restated Trust, Phoenix Art Museum, 2001.28

Last night we saw a fascinating show about Les Paul. All I'd remembered about Les Paul was that my Dad liked his music. And from the perspective of a thirteen year old in the 70's, anything Dad liked had to be boring and bad.

I was surprised to learn about an intriguing man and all his innovative music:

"Influenced by the great gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt, Paul was one of the best and earliest electric guitarists. Along with a handful of players like George Barnes, Merle Travis and Charlie Christian, he changed the sound of popular music. And if Paul didnít actually invent the solid body electric guitar (a fiction which he happily tolerates), he was a pioneer in its evolution, and he did more than anyone to popularize what would become the dominant instrumental voice of contemporary music.

"His influence can be heard on almost every song on the radio, and musicians honor him with near reverence. Certainly no other Wisconsin musician approaches his impact on not just music, but popular culture."
(From a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article quoted at PBS' website.)

Les Paul kept on playing despite bad arthritis well into his nineties. I love his indominible spirit.

Interesting, the Curtis painting above of musicians was done at the time when Les Paul was just getting started and jamming with Django and other jazz musicians.

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