By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
“Groucho says, ‘I’m trying to wake the guy up upstairs.’ I started throwing rocks too, and Groucho said, ‘What in the world are you doing here?’ ‘Well, I’m working on a recording. You wouldn’t know what it is.’ Groucho says, ‘Let’s see what you got.’ ”
Paul showed Marx the lathe. Marx said, “My family are engineers over in Glendale. They might be interested in something like this.”
Marx’s family company ultimately manufactured a lathe for Paul, which he used along with the one he’d built himself to create a multitrack recording unit that would record and bounce tracks back and forth between the two lathes.
Not the least of Paul’s creations would be his development with Ampex and engineer Ray Norman of the eight-track recording machine, initially inspired by the way in which film companies striped the video and audio track on a single strip of magnetic tape.
And then there is the mysterious Les Paulverizer, a multi-effects/playback unit that he custom-crafted to fit right onto his guitar, enabling him and Ford to improvise multitracked vocals and guitar and space it all out wacky, as the mood might deem. Among the first people to hear the Paulverizer were Richard Nixon and Dwight Eisenhower, at a command performance at the White House. They dug it, apparently. .
The Paulverizer was a key element in the success of Paul and Ford’s radio shows and live performances, where, by the way, Paul eliminated the acoustic bass to play the bass sound on the guitar — the beginning of the electric bass.
Through it all, Paul persistently plugged away at his dreams, following his muse, having the time of his life.
“I had my dreams, but they didn’t go way out,” he said. “I just thought the electric guitar should be here, it will be here and it’ll be successful. With my invention of all the sound effects: the reverb, and the delay and all those things, I knew they were great toys to play with; I knew I was gonna have a lot of fun with them, but I never knew it would continue to advance more and more. It was a very pleasant surprise.”
One more thing: Les Paul is the inventor of the Chipmunks. But that’s a whole ’nother story...