The September 15, 2013 meeting was a meeting honoring Les Paul. His original name was Lester Willam Polsfuss. He was born on June 9, 1915, in Waukesha, WI. His childhood piano teacher wrote to his mother, “Your boy, Lester, will never learn music.” By the time he was a teenager, Lester was playing with country bands in the Midwest. In Chicago he performed for radio broadcasts on WLS. He billed himself as the “Wizard of Waukesha”, “Hot Rod Red”, and “Rhubarb Red”.
The Waukesha County Museum located in Les Paul’s hometown of Waukesha opened a permanent 2000 square-foot exhibit called The Les Paul Experience honoring the icon who died in 2009. It is the most comprehensive exhibit on Les Paul in the country.
Les Paul was always a tinkerer, taking apart things like telephones and other gadgets. He had made his first attempt at audio amplification at age 13. By placing a phonograph needle in the guitar, all six strings were amplified, which proved to be much louder. Paul was playing a working prototype of the electric guitar in 1929. In 1952 Gibson Guitar began mass producing a guitar based on Paul’s design. The rest is rock and roll history.
WIMAPS members had a guided tour of the Les Paul exhibit and enjoyed the interactive exhibits. This is more than just artifacts, it is homage to a man who was extremely proud of his Midwest home town and really wanted to be remembered as the “Wizard of Waukesha.” We also visited his gravesite at Prairie Home Cemetery in Waukesha, WI. Robin Rolfs played Les Paul records and the group enjoyed the day.
On a sad note members paid tribute to Janet Keuler, WIMAPS secretary who passed away, August 16, 2013 after a brief struggle with cancer. Janet enjoyed music, music boxes, phonographs, and especially, all her phonograph friends. She was our WIMAPS secretary and wrote the most beautiful minutes of each meeting in a way that only Janet could express. Janet, you will be missed by all you have touched.