Born on Jan. 9, 1916, in Waykesha, Wisconsin, as Lester Polfuss, Paul started out playing guitar in hillbilly bands and then moved on to jazz combos, first with the Les Paul Trio in the late Thirties, before be-coming the guitarist with first Fred Waring and later Bing Crosby. He had always been interested in electronics and in 1941, while in hospital after a car crash, he had the idea of making a solid body electric guitar — the log' — which he eventually sold to Gibson as the 'Les Paul Guitar'. It was finally issued by the company, complete with its famous sustaining pick-ups, in 1952.
In the late Forties, he met Mary Ford — born on July 7, 1928, as Colleen Summer, in Pasadena, California — and they began performing and recording as a duo, unsuccessfully, for Decca and Columbia. After their marriage, they moved to Capitol and almost immediately had a series of million-sellers — Nockin' Bird Hill', 'How High The Moon' and The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise', records which are remembered more for their originality.
Mary Ford's voice complementing Les Paul's 'talking guitar' — than anything else. Their hits ceased in 1961, but by then Les Paul, who had built the first eight-track recorder in 1954, was far more interested in experimenting with guitars than playing them. Since his divorce from Mary Ford in 1963, he has devoted himself to 'reinventing the guitar'.