Lester William Polfuss was born in Waukesha, WI on June 9, 1915, and lived in the 300 block of W. St. Paul Ave.
He was a world-class innovative guitarist and inventor who perfected the first solid body electric guitar, multi-track recording, echo, tape delay and phase shifting. His work on amplification and recording paved the way for modern techniques. The “Gibson Les Paul” is still used by many rock guitarists and blues musicians for its deep resonance and tone. In 1949, Les married Mary Ford and that same year, they debuted together at the Polfuss family tavern, “400 Club” located on historic Williams Street. Les's musical accomplishments included stage, radio, recordings (39 gold), movies, television and night clubs.
In 1977, he and Chet Atkins received a “Grammy” for the best Country Instrumental Performance. That same year he and Mary Ford received the Lifetime Achievement Award. Other recognitions include the Rock & Roll “Hall of Fame”, the Hollywood “Walk of Fame Star”, induction in the “Hall of Fame” for the Wis. Area Music & Industry and Waukesha Conty Arts & Alliance. The Les Paul Parkway around the city of Waukesha and this Performance Center are also named after him.
Known as “The Wizard of Waukesha”, Les Paul passed away on August 12, 2009 and is buried at Prairie Home Cemetery in Waukesha.