Ailing Les Paul Misses Grammys, Tribute Concert
Electric guitar innovator Les Paul won two Grammy Awards last night (Feb. 8) for an all-star album marking his 90th birthday, but he was unable to pick them up in person because he is hospitalized inElectric guitar innovator Les Paul won two Grammy Awards last night (Feb. 8) for an all-star album marking his 90th birthday, but he was unable to pick them up in person because he is hospitalized in New Jersey with pneumonia.
Paul, whose name has adorned a brand of guitars used by rock stars since the 1950s, won his trophies in the pop instrumental performance category for the track "Caravan," and in the rock instrumental performance category for the track "69 Freedom Special," credited to Les Paul and Friends.
The tracks come from the Capitol album "Les Paul & Friends: American Made World Played," his first release since 1978's "Chester & Lester" with late Nashville icon Chet Atkins. That album marked the only other time he won a Grammy. The new CD features such guitarists as Jeff Beck, Billy Gibbons and Keith Richards accompanying Paul on classic rock and R&B songs.
Paul has been hospitalized near his New Jersey home since Friday, a spokeswoman for his label said. In a radio interview on Monday, he sounded chipper and vowed he would get better.
Ill health forced him to pull out of an all-star tribute concert in Los Angeles on Tuesday, featuring the likes of former Guns 'N Roses guitarist Slash, Aerosmith's Joe Perry, and bluesmen Buddy Guy and Hubert Sumlin, nut he appeared via satellite feed.
At 90, Paul is not the oldest winner in the Grammys' 48-year history. That honor goes to Elizabeth Cotten, who was 94 when she won the award for ethnic or traditional folk recording in 1985, according to a Grammys spokesperson.
Paul has been a dominant force in the music business since World War II. He and wife Mary Ford enjoyed a string of hits in the 1940s and '50s with such million-sellers as "Mockin' Bird Hill" and "How High the Moon."
A passionate tinkerer, he created one of the first solid-body electric guitars in 1941, and went on to pioneer multi-track recording. He played a key role in the birth of rock 'n' roll in the early 1950s when he teamed up with Gibson Guitar Corp. to help design a sleek model that bears his name. An instant success, its basic structure has barely changed over the decades.
Despite arthritis and hearing problems, Paul remains an indefatigable musician. He holds court every week at Iridium, a New York jazz club, often trading licks with youngsters who want to prove their mettle.
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