Stories From Main Street: Mahwah Museum Celebrates Les Paul’s 100th Birthday

MAHWAH, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The Mahwah Museum is celebrating legendary guitarist Les Paul’s 100th birthday.

Les Paul was born a century ago in Wisconsin, but he lived nearly 60 years in northern New Jersey.

“We’re very proud to call him a son of Mahwah,” museum president Charles Carreras said. “I think he loved it because it was close to New York, but it was peaceful.”

His home was like a musical museum, WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reported.

“Hundreds of guitars in the bedroom, just out, laying around,” Carreras said. “Imagine a very large master bedroom and hundreds of guitars strewn around the bedroom.”

Some might say Les Paul was the Thomas Edison of guitars.

“The testimony is, people like Keith Richards who say he’s the father of it all,”  Carreras said. “An innovator, a musician, an entertainer, an inventor, an engineer.”

Paul is a pioneer of the solid body electric guitar, multi-track recording, delay and effects.

The museum houses his custom built mixing board and the first 8-track recorder that Ampex made in 1949, with an investment from Bing Crosby.

“Bing got five of these and he gave one to Les,” Carreras said.

Among the guitars displayed are “a Jimmy Page model 1995 that Gibson made with Les Paul’s guidance for Jimmy Page and then a 1969 custom made by Gibson for Les Paul,” Carreras said.

For $25, you can plug in and play one of his signature guitars.

“They can play Les’ guitars and they can enjoy them,” Carreras said. “Some will just hold the guitar, they’ll caress it, and tears in their eyes holding these guitars.”

Les Paul performed weekly in Manhattan into his 90s.

He died in 2009.

Les Paul’s Big Sound Experience a 53-foot-long interactive mobile exhibition, will be in Times Square for one day only on Tuesday, Les Paul’s birthday.

It will visit the Mahwah Museum from Friday, June 12 – Sunday, June 14, 2015. For more information, CLICK HERE.

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