Kity Dunn photo

Celebrating Les Paul in Wisconsin

June 8, 2017

The Wizard of Waukesha, Les Paul, would have turned 102 this week (June 9th). This guy not only invented the solid body electric guitar, but came up with sound on sound recording, and kept on inventing and imagining throughout his life.

In 2004, Les Paul was honored by the Wisconsin School Music Association with a Lifetime Achievement Award in a ceremony at Monona Terrace. I was honored to meet him and even got to watch him jam!

There are a lot of ways to learn more about Les Paul, including the excellent documentary Chasing Sound. But if you want to dive in a  little deeper, here are some other suggestions for celebrating his birthday.


Les Paul was born in Waukesha in 1915, and the city really wants  you to know it! Check out Guitar Town, a series of murals dedicated to Les Paul, as well as numerous 10 foot tall guitars decorated by talented artists. Great for selfies!

The Waukesha County Museum has a Les Paul exhibit as well, featuring some of his guitars and original recording equipment. Don't be confused by the info about the Wiley Wizard of Waukesha, that's a different guy.

You can also visit Les Paul's grave at Prairie Home cemetery.


The Discovery World Science and Technology Center has an entire exhibit dedicated to Les Paul--Les Paul’s Big Sound Experience.   New interactive exhibits allow you to explore Les Paul’s sound, music, and technology innovations, mix and share music, create your own new sound, and delve into Les Paul’s personal story.


This isn't a specific Les Paul exhibit, but Dave's Guitars has a lot of sweet Les Paul guitars you can try out. And his not-for-sale room upstairs houses Dave's personal collection, which includes a very early and rare 1956 Les Paul guitar and a 1959 sunburst—only 600 of them were made!