U.S. instrumentalist / guitar player Les Paul and female vocalist and wife Mary Ford. Known as ‘America’s Musical Sweethearts’ Les Paul & Mary Ford had signed to Capitol Records in the late forties. Through the first half of the fifties Les & Mary became the hottest duo across the USA laying down a host of wonderful recordings. They had a string of big hits, plus a radio and television series to their credit.
Les Paul also made his mark of coarse, as the man responsible for inventing the solid base electric guitar - a design which he had made at his own expense by Gibson. He was also into experimenting in the studio with various recording techniques with overdubbing / multi-tracking and an echo chamber. His guitar playing was to be a massive influence on guitarist from the fifties, sixties and beyond.
Les Paul and Mary Ford’s version of ‘How High the Moon’, which topped the Billboard singles chart for nine weeks in the spring and early summer of 1951 (while also hitting number one on the R&B chart, something which no white act had done before), was a true wake-up call for many of today’s veteran engineers; a multi-layered recording that highlighted not only the jazz guitarist’s quick-fingered virtuosity, but also, thanks to his technological and innovative brilliance with recording, the creative possibilities that lay beyond merely capturing a straightforward live performance.
It’s hard to think of another couple whose personal and professional lives were as intertwined and successful as those of Les and Mary. On the surface, their partnership looked ill-fitted from the start, but for most of their 15 years together – 20 including their five-year courtship, the relationship between Paul and Ford was a storybook tale.
Between 1950 and 1954, the couple scored no less than 16 Top Ten U.S. hits. All told, they issued 28 hits for Capitol Records between the years 1950 and 1957. Their popular appeal was based as much on their musical talent as the revolutionary recording techniques developed by Les Paul and adapted by many artists and producers who followed. Their biggest UK hit was probably Vaya Con Dios (May God Be With You) reaching #7 in November 1953 but they also had at least six more top twenty UK hits during 1951 & 1952.
These ‘Extended Play’ sides will evoke nostalgic memories, not only from the music of the day but fond memories of the EP’s they came from.