Born Lester William Polfuss on the 9th of June 1915, Les Paul is best known for the Gibson solidbody guitar that bears his name. Through a career that spanned several decades, Les worked with some of the biggest names in show business including Bing Crosby, The Andrews Sisters, Count Basie and Django Reinhardt. He is also credited with inventing multi track recording, an innovation that led to a string of hits with his wife Mary Ford in the 1950s and ultimately changed the way in which records are made.
In 1932, Les, who was still in his teens, began appearing with hillbilly guitarist Sunny Joe Wolverton on KMOX’s Farm Folks Hour. Dubbed ‘Rhubarb Red’ and accompanying himself on guitar and harmonica, Les was earning around $45 a week, a considerable salary during the Depression.
A year later, Joe Wolverton bought Les a new guitar, choosing a Gibson L-5, the model that he played himself.
Two of Les Paul’s L-5s can be viewed in the 16-inch Type Two section of this site. One has the legend Rhubarb Red engraved on its truss rod cover (Serial Number 86873), while the other is a guitar (Serial Number 87230) that Les bought for Sunny Joe Wolverton in 1933.