“It could only happen in New York. Where else in the world would people queue around the block for a seedy-looking jazz club, to hear the performance of a man best remembered for having invented the musical broomstick, whose fingers are so arthritic they can hardly move, and who is still pumping it out every Monday night at the age of 93?

But then, the weekly Les Paul show at the Iridium Club, a basement joint on Broadway that looks as though it was set in aspic some time in the 1950s, is more than just a performance. It’s a pilgrimage, where fans of 20th-century American music and lovers of the electric guitar – Paul McCartney, Jeff Beck, and Keith Richards among them – come to pay homage to the great man. Richards bluntly summed up the aura of the man when he said: “We must all own up that without Les Paul, generations of flash little punks like us would be in jail or cleaning toilets.”

Like his close collaborator, Leo Fender, Les Paul is best known for the electric guitar he created. If the Fender Stratocaster is the edgy workhorse of the rock industry, the Gibson Les Paul was and remains its elegant rival, its richly varnished mahogany body and oyster-shell fingerboard adding a touch of class to a rough-hewn affair. But there’s much more to Paul than a lump of wood with a cherry-burst finish: he’s also a consummate musician who, despite the arthritis which has reduced him to the use of just two fingers, is still able to spark a flame in much younger performers.”

(via The Guardian)