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Greenwich Village Landmarks: Lester William Polsfuss (aka Les Paul)
Greenwich Village has many landmarks of music history. The jazz clubs in the area saw the likes of Miles Davis and John Coltrane. The bars and clubs that line Bleecker Street and the surrounding area helped popularize folk music in the 1960s. And of course there is that famous little recording studio just south of Jefferson Market on Eighth Street where some of the most important music of the past forty years was recorded. Out of all the Village music landmarks though there is one that absolutely dwarfs them all. In 1941 guitar manufacturer Epiphone was located at 144 West 14th Street and it was there that one Lester William Polsfuss assembled the first solid body electric guitar. Polsfuss was his birth name. His stage name was Les Paul. He went on to pioneer many technologies that influenced the recording industry but it was the solid body electric guitar that really changed the sound of music forever.
Les Paul died today at the age of 94. He certainly saw a lot of changes in his lifetime, especially over the past decade, as sequences of 0’s and 1’s have forever altered the music industry. Yet despite this move from analog to digital the innovations of Les Paul can still be heard and historic places can still be visited right here in Greenwich Village.