FM96 Top 10 Les Paul Players
- #1 Jimmy Page Led Zeppelin
- #2 Slash Guns ‘N Roses
- #3 Pete Townshend The Who
- #4 Randy Rhoads Ozzy Osbourne
- #5 Zakk Wylde Ozzy Osbourne
- #6 Joe Perry Aerosmith
- #7 Alex Lifeson Rush
- #8 Billy Gibbons ZZ Top
- #9 Ace Frehley KISS
- #10 Bob Marley Bob Marley and the Wailers
Les Paul was born June 9th, 1915. He would have turned 101 years old this week, and to celebrate, 10 songs featuring a Les Paul! First, a little history lesson.
Les Paul was both a musician and an inventor – the guy behind the solid body electric guitar. Hey, thanks for that, we can’t live without it!
He was a jazz, country & blues musician born in Wisconsin and also played a role in pioneering tape delay, multi-track recording, and overdubbing. Les Paul and Gibson made a deal in 1952 to change the world as we know it.
The Gibson Les Paul is one of the most recognizable guitars of all-time and the artists who brandish it seem to transcend age, era, gender and genre. From heavy metal enthusiasts to indie rock icons to reggae superstars, it seems like nearly every musical legend has strapped on a Les Paul at some point to take advantage of its signature sound. Sure, the axe is heavy, but that’s part of the secret to its tone.
#1 Jimmy Page - Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin’s Page has penned so many classic rock riffs that it’s hard to even know where to start with the guitarist’s list of accomplishments. However he couldn’t have done it alone and the chunky sound of his Les Paul was intrinsic to tracks like “Whole Lotta Love” and “Black Dog” and helped add a welcome dose of heaviness to the classic rock formula.
Here’s a guy that’s on a different playing field than most guitarists, and still going at it at 72 years old. Jimmy Page enters a serious relationship with each guitar and treats each one like a human really, maybe that’s why we hear so much about his guitar nicknames! In fact, one of his guitars was even booked it’s own business class flight with British Airways in 2007. There was his 1960 Les Paul Custom, which he called “Black Beauty,” there’s the Gibson Les Paul Standard with a pinkish finish he nicknamed Pepto Bismol, and the guitar Page played most during his years with Led Zeppelin was a Gibson Les Paul Standard he called ‘Number One.’ He bought it off Joe Walsh in 1969, had it sanded and resprayed, had the neck of the guitar shaved super thin and it would lead to that oh-so-familiar Zeppelin tone we’ve fallen in love with over the years.
Read more about his guitar nicknames from Ultimate Classic Rock.
#2 Slash - Guns 'N Roses
Guns N’ Roses’ former guitarist Slash is probably best known for three things: his messy mop of black hair, signature top hat and sunburst Gibson Les Pauls. In fact his Les-Paul-through-a-Marshall-stack sound is responsible for some of the most popular guitar riffs of all-time: “Welcome To The Jungle” and “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” anyone? Oh and speaking of the latter riff, if you really want to nail the tone be sure your pickup selector is in the rhythm position — and despite Slash’s own preferences we don’t recommend downing a fifth of Jack Daniel’s prior to plugging in.
#3 Pete Townshend - The Who
Here’s Pete Townshend’s acceptance speech winning the Les Paul Award at the 28th Annual TEC Awards, January 25th, 2013.
#4 Randy Rhoads - Ozzy Osbourne
Randy Rhoads began his performing career playing a cream-colored Gibson Les Paul Custom, and we’ll never be able to forget it.
It is one of the most iconic guitars in rock history: Randy Rhoads’ 1974 Les Paul Custom. The Guitar that Ozzy Osbourne sideman used on Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman. The guitar that drove Crayz Train off the rails…Here’s some of the best live footage you’ll find on the internet from 1981:
Here’s Ozzy reacting to a lost guitar solo on some tape:
#5 Zakk Wylde - Ozzy Osbourne
From his early work with Ozzy Osbourne, to his seminal playing with Black Label Society, to his distinctive solo outings, Zakk Wylde has distinguished himself as one of the most fierce lead players in all of rock. A technique as furious and aggressive demands a guitar to match. Gibson Custom is honored to work with Wylde to create a guitar that features his trademark bullseye graphics, EMG humbucking pickups and raw, unfinished necks. The Zakk Wylde Les Paul from Gibson Custom is the ultimate weapon for guitarists looking to hack out anything from metal to grunge to the most raw shred styles.
Just watch this guy shred. Ridiculous
#6 Joe Perry - Aerosmith
We can thank Joe Perry and his Les Paul for inspiring guys like Slash…
For four decades, Perry has made the Gibson Les Paul his go-to guitar, and this legendary electric’s fat tone, singing sustain, and unparalleled playability have remained at the center of his sound. Gibson Custom honors Perry’s achievement with the Joe Perry Boneyard Les Paul, an instrument that embodies both the radical style and the unparalleled tone of this reiffmeister supreme.
The Joe Perry Boneyard Les Paul’s looks are likely to capture you first. The guitar is resplendent in a highly figured carved maple top, with a custom “Green Tiger” finish in nitrocellulose lacquer to superbly show off all the depth and dimension of the stunning wood the Custom Shop has selected for this project. Vintage cream binding, aged nickel hardware, and vintage style tulip-button tuners keep it all simple and classic, while a mother-of-pearl “Boneyard” headstock inlay and truss-rod cover engraved with Joe Perry’s signature announce that this guitar is something special. In the tone department, the traditional pairing of a Tune-o-matic (ABR-1) bridge and stopbar tailpiece (with Bigsby vibrato optional) offer superb string-to-body coupling for enhanced resonance and sustain, while two of the Custom Shop’s most popular humbucking pickups—a BurstBucker 2 in the neck for warm, vocal tones, and a slightly hotter BurstBucker 3 in the bridge for muy midrange grind and singing lead tones—complete the classic Les Paul sonic appointments. For added versatility, at Perry’s request, the neck pickup has been wired reverse-polarity for funky out-of-phase tones in the middle position. Wrap it all up, and it’s an axe to rattle some bones, and raise the dead—the Joe Perry Boneyard Les Paul. Available at your authorized Gibson dealer, and each guitar comes with a Custom Shop hardshell case and Certificate of Authenticity. Also available with Bigsby Tremelo.
#7 Alex Lifeson - Rush
#8 Billy Gibbons - ZZ Top
In this video at about the 4:00 mark, Billy Gibbons talks about his famous Les Paul ‘Pearly Gates.’
#9 Ace Frehley - KISS
Frehley could have picked any kind of guitar to install a smoke bomb inside, but he picked — you guessed it — a Gibson Les Paul. In fact his arsenal of Les Pauls is almost as closely associated to the guitarist as the make-up he rocked every night during KISS’ ’70s heyday. Not only was Frehley’s Les Paul-fueled sound responsible for riffs like “Cold Gin” and “Shock Me,” it also helped make KISS one of the most recognizable bands (or as bassist Gene Simmons describes it, “brands”) in rock history.
#10 Bob Marley
Back in 2002, Gibson released a limited edition Bob Marley Les Paul Special, built exactly like the guitar you’d see on display at the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston, Jamaica.
The solidbody mahogany guitar from Gibson’s Custom, Art & Historic division replicates a number of unique appointments including Marley’s trademark white binding on the headstock and fingerboard – now yellowed with age – and small pearl block inlays similar to a mid-1960s ES-335.
Marley, who passed away May 11, 1981, modified his Les Paul Special by removing the original wraparound tailpiece and inserting dowels in the fill holes, substituting a stop bar tailpiece. Gibson duplicates these characteristics as well as the aluminum pickguard and aluminum football-shaped switchwasher around the 3-way selector switch. A carefully aged Cherry finish as well as marks and scratches copied from the original instrument complete the well-worn look and feel of the guitar; Marley’s signature appears on the headstock.