Reaction to the death of music icon Les Paul came pouring in Thursday (August 13), just hours after news broke that the electric-guitar pioneer had died at age 94 of complications from pneumonia.
Paul, who helped revolutionize the electric guitar and musical recording technology with his innovations of multi-track recording and overdubbing, was a hero to several generations of guitar slingers and a number weighed in with their tributes to the "Wizard of Waukesha."
One of the most celebrated guitarists of the 1990s, former Guns N' Roses thrasher Slash, paid loving homage to Paul, who he praised as an inspiration. "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 has his own signature line of Slash Les Paul Goldtop guitars. "I'm honored and humbled to have known and played with him over the years. He was an exceptionally brilliant man."
Another modern guitar giant, Joe Satriani, bowed at the altar of Paul, saying in a statement, "Les Paul set a standard for musicianship and innovation that remains unsurpassed. He was the original guitar hero and the kindest of souls. 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."
One of Paul's most vocal and enthusiastic acolytes, ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons, said he couldn't imagine what rock music would sound like without his mentor's inventions and spirit. "Les Paul brought six strings to electricity and electricity to six strings," Gibbons said in a statement. "Les Paul was an innovator, a groundbreaker, a risk taker, a mentor and a friend. Try to imagine what we'd be doing if he hadn't come along and changed the world. There will always be more Les to come. That's certified."
With her low-slung Les Paul and a snarling punk attitude, [artist id="10075"]Joan Jett[/artist] got sentimental about how much she'd miss Paul's influence. "I, and everyone at Blackheart Records, mourn the passing of our dear friend, Les Paul," Jett wrote. "He was a genius inventor, musical innovator and a wonderful person. Without the advances he pioneered, the recording sciences and the electric guitar would have been left years behind. I will miss him so much."
Blues master Keb Mo gave Paul props for being a vibrant musician well into his 90s. "He's a guy who played right up to the end," Mo said. "That's what we all want to do!!"
Neil Portnow, president/CEO of the Recording Academy, added in a statement, "Three-time Grammy winner Les Paul was a musical mastermind whose innovations in electric guitar and recorded music are unparalleled. A 1983 Trustees Award recipient and a 2001 Technical Grammy Award recipient, his career and contributions to popular music will forever be celebrated and will continue to influence future generations of musicians. His magnetic charm and sunny disposition matched his incredible skill set, and he will always be remembered with great fondness, humility and respect. The music industry has lost a true innovator and legend."