On June 9, in honor of famed guitarist, songwriter and inventor Les Paul’s birthday, Musicians On Call Volunteers Grace Gonzalez, Glenn Manion and the Squeaky Clean Band and Tony Memmel performed in a special MOC virtual program dedicated to his historic legacy. Patients from Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, Children’s Hospital of Colorado and St. Louis Children’s Hospital tuned in to hear some of Les Paul’s big hits and learn facts about his life and his foundational contributions to modern music-making.
Tony Memmel kicked off the program with “How High the Moon,” and shared a special personal connection he has with Les Paul…they are from the same hometown! Both Tony and Les hail from Waukesha, Wisconsin, which is also known as “Guitar Town” thanks to Les Paul’s incredible influence. Grace Gonzalez performed The Beatles’ classic “8 Days a Week” and a soulful rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” one of Les Paul’s mother’s favorite songs. Joined by his wife Suzanne on electric bass guitar and daughter Addison on alto saxophone, Glenn Manion lifted everyone’s spirits with the Bob Marley hit “Three Little Birds” and a rockin’ version of “Twist and Shout” by The Beatles.
Some of the fun facts about Les Paul that were shared throughout the program included:
• Les Paul invented the solid body electric guitar in 1941 and the multi-track recording, which is commonly used by artists to this day.
• Bob Marley played a Gibson Les Paul guitar, and the guitar brand later came out with the Bob Marley Les Paul Special.
• While on tour with his wife Mary Ford, Les Paul would visit hospitals and play for patients at their bedsides – just like Musicians On Call!
• He is the only person to be inducted into both the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
This virtual program was made possible by the Les Paul Foundation, whose mission is to inspire innovative and creative thinking by sharing the legacy of Les Paul through support of music education, recording, innovation and medical research related to hearing.
“Set your sights on where you want to go in your life, make up your mind you’re going to do it no matter what, and start digging. More often than not, you’ll get there. Whether it works out or not, it may lead to something wonderful you would’ve otherwise missed.” – Les Paul