Everyone who has ever made a home multitrack recording or played an electric guitar (and if MySpace and YouTube are any indication, that's 85 percent of the American people) is mourning a parent today, whether they know it or not. Les Paul, dead at 94.
For his innovations as inventor of the techniques and sounds that made the late 20th century what they were, which was among other things an era of amazing and widespread cultural productive power, we named him one of our 35 Heroes of Freedom in Reason magazine's 35th anniversary issue in 2003. What we said then:
Paul was a terrific jazz guitarist who invented the solid-body electric guitar in 1947, helping usher in America's most liberating cultural invention of the latter 20th century, rock 'n' roll. He pioneered multitracked recording and built the first eight-track, which put the D into DIY while allowing bands like the Beatles to make lasting works of art.