HOLLYWOOD, CA. (Capitol/EMI) - Capitol/EMI's August 30 release of "Les Paul & Friends: American Made World Played" marks guitar legend Les Paul's return to Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart for the first time in 50 years. The CD's No 152 debut also sets a new record, making Paul, who recently celebrated his 90th birthday, the oldest artist ever to enjoy an album debut on Billboard's chart.
Beyond the borders, "Les Paul & Friends" has been released to great international success, as well, with chart debuts in Austria (No 28), Canada (No 186) and Germany (No 38). "Les Paul & Friends" is Paul's first new album since his 1978 Grammy-winning collaboration with Chet Atkins, "Chester & Lester."
Les Paul, the world-renowned electric guitar innovator and performer, celebrated his 90th birthday on June 9. Capitol/EMI Music Catalog Marketing has joined with other Les Paul admirers to honor Les Paul throughout his 90th year with new product releases, honors and awards, including new CD releases, two new books, and a host of special events fit for the father of the electric guitar.
Produced by Bob Cutarella and Fran Cathcart, "Les Paul & Friends" is an all-star collaborative CD, earning high praise from critics around the world. Rolling Stone's David Fricke summarized the CD, Paul's first straight-ahead rock album, as "Classic rock and R&B songs by Les Paul with a hot licks army of disciples."
Many of music's top artists joined Les Paul for his high-octane return to the studio, including Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Peter Frampton, Billy Gibbons, Buddy Guy, Beth Hart, Steve Miller, Keith Richards, Johnny Rzeznik, Richie Sambora, Neal Schon, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Sting, Joss Stone, and more. The CD brings Paul together with a legion of his greatest fans, all of whom have learned a thing or two from the master and have achieved their own great successes in music.
From Eric Clapton to Joss Stone, Keith Richards to Sting, the artists joining Paul on the rock-charged album share one clear common bond: Les Paul is one of their most respected and beloved mentors. With advanced arthritis limiting his own ability to shred like the younger guns, and always more of a melodic pluck-and-flutter player himself, Paul was happy to set loose his rock & roll descendents on the leads and solos before adding his own signature riffs, trills and staccato exclamations to the arrangements.
"It has to be said, we must all own up that without Les Paul, generations of flash little punks like us would be in jail or cleaning toilets. This man, by his genius, made the road that we still travel today. I don't know how he did it, but I'm so grateful he did."
- Keith Richards, as quoted in the "Les Paul & Friends" CD package
On June 7, Capitol/EMM reissued "Les Paul with Mary Ford: The Best of The Capitol Masters (90th Birthday Edition)," a collection of Paul's finest Capitol recordings, with new artwork, three bonus tracks and a new package essay written by Paul himself. On May 20, Paul was inducted into the Inventors' Hall Of Fame at a formal ceremony at the Hall's Akron, OH headquarters. On June 9, the evening of Paul's 90th birthday, he was honored with the Songwriters' Hall Of Fame Sammy Cahn Lifetime Achievement Award at the organization's 2005 awards event in New York.
On June 19, one of the world's greatest gatherings of guitarists took the Carnegie Hall stage for "All For Paul: Les Paul's 90th Birthday Salute," a star-studded celebration presented by Gibson Guitar at the JVC Jazz Festival - New York. Throughout Paul's 90th year, Gibson Guitars will issue 12 special edition commemorative Les Paul guitars. Two new Les Paul books arrive in stores this year: "The Les Paul Legacy" by Rob Lawrence is due from Hal Leonard Publishing on October 27 (ISBN 0634048619). "Les Paul In His Own Words," a limited edition autobiography with each numbered copy signed by Paul, was released June 9 by Russ Cochran Publishing.
Les Paul, born June 9, 1915 in Waukesha, Wisconsin, is not just one of the world's finest guitarists of all time, but is also a Rock & Roll Hall Of Famer, five-time Grammy Award winner, the inventor of the solid body electric guitar, and the pioneer of numerous enduring studio techniques, including multi-track recording and the use of reverb. His signature Les Paul line of Gibson guitars debuted in 1952 and quickly grew into a family of four models, the Junior, Special, Standard and Custom, all of which became Gibson classics. Gibson's Les Paul guitars, including new custom models from Jimmy Page, Neal Schon and Joe Perry, are universally hailed as the best and are the top choice for many of the world's premier players.
Les Paul continues to play weekly shows at New York's Iridium Jazz Club, with 8 pm and 10 pm sets every Monday evening. Paul is often joined onstage by friends, from world-known musicians to aspiring players who arrive toting their own Les Paul guitars.