This past Saturday, June 9th, would have been Les Paul’s 97th birthday. Many of Les’ fans around the world helped celebrate by participating in an historic auction of guitars and other memorabilia from Les’ estate. The auction was conducted by Juliens for the Les Paul Foundation to benefit music education and innovation. By the end of the two day auction almost $5 million had been raised.
In the midst of all the guitars and electronics the one item we were paying attention to was a jacket. A jacket? Yep, this was the WGN Radio jacket Les wore that he got from Johnnie. With the “buyer’s premium” charge Julien’s auctions adds to the winning bid, it went for about $650. We smiled at that and think that Les would have been smiling, too. As quickly as the bidding went up, we know the person who made the winning bid must have been smiling, too.
In case he or she ever does a google search for more information on Les and the jacket, we thought we’d tell, as another friend named Paul (Harvey) used to say, “The REST of the story.”
During one of his many visits with us, Les was reminiscing about his days in Chicago radio. At one time or another, either as Les Paul or Rhubarb Red, he found himself behind the microphones of most of the major Chicago stations and, as Les told us, he had fond memories of being at WGN. When we got our WGN jackets as Christmas gifts from the station, Johnnie thought it would be a perfect Christmas gift for Les. When he got it Les had to call us and tell us how much he loved it.
Les got the jacket just before a historic photo session that was done at his Mawah, NJ home by internationally known photographer, Annie Leibovitz. Joining Les for this photo session was another guitar legend we’re fortunate enough to call a friend, Duane Eddy. You’ve probably seen the Annie Leibovitz photo as it appeared in Vanity Faire magazine with the caption “Axe Men.”
What you may not have seen is the photo below. It was taken by Duane Eddy’s wife, Deed, during a break at the Annie Leibovitz session. Les wanted to have a picture taken of him wearing the WGN jacket so Johnnie could see it.
The picture was a wonderful gift from Les, Duane and Deed. It is a very cherished memory of and from some very special friends.
And now you know the REST of the story.