From Les Paul's web site:
" ...we must all own up that without Les Paul, generations of flash little punks like us would be in jail or cleaning toilets." Keith Richards
Before his attention was diverted toward recording multi-layered hits for the pop market, he made his name as a brilliant jazz guitarist whose exposure on coast-to-coast radio programs guaranteed a wide audience of susceptible young musicians
Though he couldn't read music, Paul had a magnificent ear and innate sense of structure, conceiving complete arrangements entirely in his head before he set them down track by track on disc or tape.
Dissatisfied with the electric guitars circulating in the mid-'30s, Paul, assisted by tech-minded friends, began experimenting with designs of his own.
Paul's interest in music began when he took up the harmonica at age eight.
By 1937, Paul had formed a trio, and the following year, he moved to New York and landed a featured spot with Fred Waring's Pennsylvanians, which gave Les nationwide exposure through its broadcasts. That job ended in 1941 shortly after he was nearly electrocuted in an accident during a jam session in his Queens basement.
Here is Les Paul's web site:
Les Paul (born Lester William Polsfuss on June 9, 1915) is an American jazz guitarist and inventor. He is a pioneer in the development of the solid-body electric guitar which "made the sound of rock and roll possible." His many recording innovations include overdubbing, delay effects such as "sound on sound" and tape delay, phasing effects and multitrack recording. In 2003, he was named the 46th best guitarist of all time by Rolling Stone.
In 1941, Paul designed and built one of the first solid-body electric guitars (though Leo Fender also independently created his own solid-body electric guitar around the same time, and Adolph Rickenbacher had marketed a solid-body guitar in the 30s). This prototype guitar is known as "The Log" because the solid core is a pine block whose width and depth are a little more than the width of the fretboard. Gibson Guitar Corporation designed a guitar incorporating Paul's suggestions in the early fifties, and presented it to him to try. He was impressed enough to sign a contract for what became the "Les Paul" model (originally only in a "gold top" version), and agreed never to be seen playing in public, or be photographed with, anything other than a Gibson guitar. That persisted until 1961....
lots more here:
Notable Les Paul guitar users: Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Paul McCartney, & Jeff Beck are but a few.
Information about Les Paul guitars here: