100 Greatest Guitarists: David Fricke's Picks

From Jerry Garcia and Joan Jett to B.B. King and Jimi Hendrix, Rolling Stone critic chooses the best and most influential guitarists in rock

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Les Paul
100
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46. Les Paul

Les Paul, born Lester Polfus in Waukesha, Wisconsin, on June 9th, 1915, is a guitar inventor as well as a player. He was tinkering with electronics at age twelve and built his first guitar pickup from ham-radio parts in 1934. By 1941 — after a career as a hillbilly star under the names Hot Rod Red and Rhubarb Red — he had built the first solid-body electric guitar prototype. In 1952, Gibson began selling the Les Paul model, now a rock & roll standard. He was also a pioneer in multitrack recording and a staggeringly talented guitarist, cutting a string of futuristic pop hits with wife Mary Ford in the early Fifties.

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