LES PAUL

AN AMERICAN ORIGINAL

Who made the guitar a solo instrument? Who invented eight- track recording, the first solid-body electric guitar, electronic reverberation, and the low-impedance guitar pickups that let Eric Clapton and Keith Richards rave it up? Lester William Polsfuss, a.k.a. Rhubarb Red, a.k.a. Les Paul, that's who, born in 1915 and still performing despite arthritis in both hands and a steel plate locking his elbow in one position. Shaughnessy (a staff writer at People) has now written the only—and excellent—biography of the guitarist, drawing on myriad original sources, including interviews with people who know Paul, files from music companies, and talks with four decades' worth of DJs. Paul is a unique blend of talented engineer and musician. His abilities asserted themselves when, at age eight, he began punching new holes in his mother's player- piano rolls, creating new tunes. Paul learned guitar by copying every note of every Django Reinhardt record he could find. After he teamed up with Mary Ford, his second wife, to become the most popular act in Fred Waring's Pennsylvanians—the premier band of the day—Paul, when in N.Y.C., would head uptown to Harlem after each show to jam with the likes of Art Tatum, Stuff Smith, and Roy Eldridge. Buying a new Cadillac, the only car big enough for his gear, Paul played over 300 dates a year in the 40's, and his portable, self-invented recording equipment was set up so he and Ford could cut sides in their hotel room between acts. ``How High the Moon,'' with its unique sound and unheard-of 12 overdubbings, took them a year to persuade Capitol Records to release; it became one of the company's bestselling discs ever, at least until the advent of the Beatles. Packed with fascinating detail and researched with loving thoroughness (Shaughnessy includes a complete Paul discography): a rock-music-lover's delight. (Photos—not seen.)

Pub Date: March 22, 1993

ISBN: 0-688-08467-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1993

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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