American Masters: Season 21, Episode 3

Les Paul: Chasing Sound (11 Jul. 2007)

TV Episode  |   |  Documentary, Biography, History
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The Authorized biography of Les Paul, " The Wizard of Waukesha". The name Les Paul is synonymous with the electric guitar. As a player, inventor, and recording artist(Paul had two #1 hits ... See full summary »



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Episode credited cast:
Susan Baker ...
Themselves (archive footage)
Timuel Black ...
Richard Carpenter ...
Walter Carter ...
Francis Catheart
Carol Corona ...
Bob Cutarella ...
Will Eastman ...
Travis Egnor ...
Will Emmanuel ...


The Authorized biography of Les Paul, " The Wizard of Waukesha". The name Les Paul is synonymous with the electric guitar. As a player, inventor, and recording artist(Paul had two #1 hits with his wife Mary Ford), Paul has been and innovator from the early years of his life. In 1928, thirteen-year-old Les Paul borrowed a phonograph needle from the family Victrola, stuck it under the strings of his Sear Roebuck guitar, and wired the contraption to a telephone mike and two radio speakers, thus achieving not only amplification but a crude stereo effect. The pioneering young musician then went on to invent scores of ingenious recording techniques, including overdubbing and multi-track recorders, as well as the solid-body electric guitar at the heart of the rock and roll revolution. Still spry at age 90, Les Paul tells his own classic rags-to-riches story in a feature-length HD documentary-with a soundtrack of greatest hits from Bing Crosby, Chet Atkins, B.B. KIng, and rock legends Jimi ... Written by Glenn Aveni

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Release Date:

11 July 2007 (USA)  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$840,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

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Did You Know?


Over the Rainbow
Written by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg
Live: Les Paul and his Trio
See more »

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User Reviews

A very nice film for the average me.
19 October 2011 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

I am certainly ignorant when it comes to music. Unlike my love for films, I have a lot to learn about the music world, so I really was happy I saw this biography (of sorts) about Les Paul. Now of course I've heard of him, know he was a great guitarist and had guitars named after him...but aside from that my knowledge is pretty scant on the man--which is a shame considering what an innovator he is. Quite simply, rock 'n roll wouldn't exist or at least would have taken a very different route getting there without him.

Paul was in his 90s when this film was made and he was in amazingly good health and spirits. Seeing him up on stage playing with many greats was inspiring because of this. And, because of this, he was able to tell his own life story during much of the film. Some of the many amazing things he did was come up with the electric guitar, popularize multitracking and played just about every genre of music there was--pop, jazz, the blues and perhaps even classical! He was amazingly versatile. And, although he didn't appear to need the money, he continued to work and be very productive. Apparently this came from good genes, as they showed film of him at his mother's 100th birthday (she lived an additional year)!

While all this is VERY fascinating and inspiring, the film was not perfect. When it came to his personal life, the film was a bit scant. It played more like a tribute with some biographical details--not a true biography. His first marriage was never mentioned and the breakup of his marriage to Mary Ford was only mentioned in passing--and should have been explained. And, his relationships in the last four decades of his life aren't talked about at all. Still, for a novice like me, it was an exceptional program and a nice tribute to a fascinating man. Oh, and if you get a chance to see it, get a load of the hat he's wearing while he's playing the song "Vaya Con Dios" with his then wife, Mary.

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