June 9th marks Les Paul’s birthday. Les was a jazz, country and blues guitarist but he was probably best known for his incredible innovations - among them, the solid-body electric guitar. Though he sadly passed away in 2009, his legacy lives on in the many musicians who choose to use the instrument he pioneered. If it weren’t for Les' guitars, the world would have missed out on some amazing licks and riffs.
To celebrate Les, here are 10 rockers who use Gibson Les Pauls when they play, along with some of their musical history with the instruments.
The Led Zeppelin guitarist’s choice of the Les Paul added much of the band’s trademark heaviness to their sound.
Some of Guns N’ Roses’ most iconic riffs were created on a Les Paul, like the ones in “Welcome to the Jungle” and “Sweet Child O’ Mine.”
The Spaceman wasn’t just known for his make-up, he was also renowned for his Les Paul, which he used to create the music for “Cold Gin,” “Shock Me” and many other Kiss hits.
Clapton has used many guitars during his career, but some of his most iconic axes were Les Pauls. They’re what defined his time in The Yardbirds and John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers and helped shape some solo music too.
Ozzy Osbourne’s legendary guitarist used his classical guitar skills with his white Les Paul to help mold the Prince of Darkness’s heavy metal sound and add memorable parts to hits like “Crazy Train” and “Mr. Crowley.”
During his time in Aerosmith, Joe has played just about every kind of Les Paul that’s come out in the past three decades. He owns hundreds of guitars, many of which are Les Pauls, no doubt because they were behind some of the band’s classics.
Some of the most unforgettable Allman Brothers Band solos came from Duane’s Les Pauls. Even though he was just 24 when he died, Duane was able to pull a sound from the guitar that lives on with his legacy.
Randy Rhoads wasn’t Ozzy’s only guitarist to rock a Les Paul – Zakk Wylde did too. With his bull’s-eye axe, Zakk made a name for himself, making some outstanding music with Oz, Black Label Society and on his own.
A Les Paul helped dictate what punk music was, thanks to the Sex Pistols guitarist, who used his aggressive styles to create the band’s music.
Townshend has experimented with all different guitars, but some of his biggest songs were written on Les Paul Deluxes. The instrument also defined his performances in the ‘70s since his iconic windmill strums would have seemed wrong on a smaller guitar.
We miss you, Les.