That's why it was wonderful to see his personal history/remembrance of Les Paul in Saturday's paper. He talks about the years before beer when his passion was fired by a different art form.
If you missed it, go have a look.
I've owned maybe a dozen since, Goldtops, Les Paul Specials, mustard-yellow TV models, double- and single-cutaway Les Paul Juniors. They're always beautiful, exciting guitars -- even single-cut Juniors, which are kind of this froggy brown-and-yellow sunburst. But they're beautiful in their own honest way, in the way of a tool properly designed and well built: beautiful like a Snap-On wrench. Beautiful.
Like properly designed tools, the guitars plain worked. Onstage, Les Pauls had a throaty rumble that could impel a song; could urge it along over a whip-crack backbeat, could thunk out a chord like a maul sinking into seasoned oak. And when it was your turn to solo, you could fly with a Les Paul in your hands. The sweetly singing sustain of the pickups transfomed your fingerwork and made the notes somehow bigger and more heroic. Orchestral, you could say. A good Les Paul never let you down.