Les Paul, who pioneered the solid-body electric guitar later wielded by a legion of rock 'n' roll greats, died Thursday of complications from pneumonia. He was 94.
According to Gibson Guitar, Paul died at White Plains Hospital. His family and friends were by his side.
As an inventor, Paul also helped bring about the rise of rock 'n' roll with multitrack recording, which enables artists to record different instruments at different times, sing harmony with themselves, and then carefully balance the tracks in the finished recording.
The use of electric-amplified guitars gained popularity in the mid-to-late 1940s, and then exploded with the advent of rock in the mid-'50s.
"Suddenly, it was recognized that power was a very important part of music," Paul once said. "To have the dynamics, to have the way of expressing yourself beyond the normal limits of an unamplified instrument, was incredible. Today a guy wouldn't think of singing a song on a stage without a microphone and a sound system."
"Without Les Paul, we would not have rock and roll as we know it," said Terry Stewart, president of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. "His inventions created the infrastructure for the music and his playing style will ripple through generations. He was truly an architect of rock and roll."