Today is a special day here at Sam Ash. We get to set aside this day, Les Paul’s birthday, to honor the legendary guitar maker. He would have been 102 years old today. Our family has always been close with Les. We grew together and worked together. He was born in 1915, our first store opened 9 years later in 1924. We both survived so much history together, and made so much more in the process. It’s very easy for us to get lost in that history and imagine it all as “tales of old”. Many of us grew up with the Gibson Les Paul never having to imagine that it needed to be conceived, conceptualized, and created. It was just always there for a lot of us. But this legendary man built it, and we are forever grateful for it. That guitar inspired countless songs, and motivated an unthinkable amount of guitar players. I remember when I was young, sitting in a cafe with my old man (who happens to be my favorite guitar player) and a beautiful clean guitar riff came over the radio. I strained to listen over the noise, and I asked, “What kind of guitar do you think that is?”
He replied, “Oh, that’s a Les Paul. No question.”
Below are 2 photos of Les at the Grand Opening of our Paramus, New Jersey store in 1975. You’ll see him pictured with Rose and Paul Ash. There is so much greatness in that photo. Truly 3 of the greatest people you could have ever met.
Les signing autographs. Truly a simpler time with so much passion for music and those who worked to create it.
New Jersey – Sometime Later (2004)
This is a photo of Les years later at a meet and greet in one of our New Jersey stores in 2004. From left to right we have Tommy Meyers from Gibson, Paul Ash once again (still handsome), a new generation of Les Paul appreciation in our fearless leader Sammy Ash, and of course, the man himself, Les Paul.
The Appreciation of Guitar Making
I can’t conclude an article about Les Paul and guitar making without mentioning Sammy Ash. I’ve never met anyone with as many guitars as he has, nor anyone who can tell you such amazing stories about each one. This man is a professional appreciator of guitars if I’ve ever met one. I know that Les meant a lot to him, as I love to show these photos below. Sammy has a connection to Les Paul the man, and Les Paul the guitar that is incredibly unique and completely his own.
Building Trust in New York
Try to imagine New York in 1924 when the original Sam opened the first store with his beautiful wife Rose. Imagine New York a few years later when Les Paul and his buddy flipped a coin to be fated with landing in this wonderful city to build their legacy. There is so much history for us here. And if there’s one thing that you want in our industry, it’s trust. You want people to believe in you as much as you believe in them.
Our family has had the tremendous pleasure to work along side this man over the years. And we keep this quote close to our hearts. Daily News Magazine ran an article about Les way back when, and when dealing with his inventive approach he was credited with saying…
If I can’t find what I want in the Sam Ash store, I try to build it.
He had our trust, and we had his. That’s something that we worked for, and something that we are so proud to have had.
Another Year Comes and Goes
To our brother, and our mentor Les Paul, our family will always love you, we miss you everyday, and we are incredibly grateful for the legacy with which you left us. You’ve shaped a huge part of who we are, and who we will continue to be. For that, we thank you. And above all on this day, Happy Birthday, to our friend, Les Paul.