Les Paul at 72
Birthday Bash & The Tale of "Old Pink"
By Sammy Ash
I was working at the White Plains store one day and I got a call from one of my friends at Gibson. He said “Henry” wants you to come to Les’s (Paul) 72nd at the Hard Rock. I said, “cool.”
I haven’t seen Les in a few months so I thought it would a lot of fun. I asked, who is else is going?
He said…”everyone”… OK who is everyone?? …EVERYONE and I can’t tell you who, I could lose my job! Interesting.
So, I of course said yes and started looking through the Village Voice (no internet yet) to see who was in town, nothing special. Being that Les was kind of old (72) and I didn’t think
he had that many years left in him (boy was I wrong!) I decided to bring something that he could sign that I would have forever.
We had a wonderful Les Paul Custom in Metallic shell pink on display for about 4 or 5 years. It was my go to guitar for demo purposes. Not one person was interested in buying it. It was
the hair band era and it had no points or shapes or strips or skulls. I figured we couldn’t sell her and I loved it so I bought it and brought it with me to the party. I must admit I
felt like a dick bringing a Les Paul to Les Paul’s party even though we were friends and pulling it out of the case to have him sign it. Wow, I am so glad I did and I got over that
My Rep at the time, Dave Pastore who met me at the door and pulled me in said, “Follow me and move” and I did. I have no idea who I saw first. Guys I admired and knew and guys I worshiped
and could hardly look at (I’m not worthy, I’m not worthy stuff but without falling to my knees).
Some out in the open, some in the kitchen and some behind closed and locked doors. To say it was a great night would be the understatement of all time. I met everyone. Some signed the
guitar and some didn’t because I had it hidden, afraid it would get stolen…big mistake.
Here is who did sign my guitar: Les Paul- John Bon Jovi - Jan Hammer - Slim Jim Phantom- Brian Setzer -Eddie Van Halen- BB King- Anthony Michael Hall- Ned Steinberger- David Gilmour-
Rick Marotta and of course Jimmy Page. There is one more that I am not 100% positive about but I am quite sure it’s Julian Lennon. He was there and it looks like his but you tell me?
It’s just below Les’.
The other people there that only signed my invitation were:
Tony Bennet - John Sebastian - Tal Farlow - Dr. John - Robby Krieger - Jeff Beck (I really wished he signed the guitar, I have a Strat he personalized to me , not the same thing) -
G.E. Smith - Nile Rogers and Al DiMeola.
I don’t remember how I got home and I didn’t remember all of the signatures on the axe but the next day I called everyone I knew.
To this day I do not play it or leave it out of the case (my only one) because of potential fading and wear.
Sammy Ash is a freelance writer and COO of Sam Ash Music, Ic.