Was Les Paul Jewish?

Yes, according to the blogger ShockHound (Dan Epstein), guitar legend Les Paul was a Jew.

No, according to Dan at jonj he went to church socials as a child, so he was not a Jew.

Our guess - no, awaiting more concrete evidence.

Here is his 8-13-2009 post:
ShockHound is deeply saddened to report that Les Paul, a man whose technological innovations massively transformed the electric guitar — not to mention recorded music as we know it — passed away last night at the age of 94.

Born Lester William Polfuss in 1915 in Waukesha, Wisconsin, the son of Jewish immigrants initially embarked on a career as a country guitarist at the age of 13, billing himself as Red Hot Red and Rhubarb Red, before gravitating towards jazz in the 1930s. After moving to Hollywood in the 1940s, Paul lent his nimble guitar stylings to recordings by Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters, before striking Top 40 gold with a series of duets featuring his wife, Mary Ford. Their ethereal, playful hits like "Vaya Con Dios," "How High The Moon" and "The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise" all featured multi-tracked, vari-speeded and electronically-echoed guitars and vocals — techniques that Paul actually invented and perfected in his home studio, and which would later become commonplace in the recording industry. Paul's Thomas Edison-like flair for technological tinkering earned him the nickname, "The Wizard of Waukesha"; he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2005.

Of course, Paul's best-remembered legacy remains the solid-body electric guitar, a device he began tinkering with in the 1930s. Frustrated by the feedback and lack of sustain endemic to the hollow-body electrics of the day, Paul created "The Log," a length of 4" x 4" lumber outfitted with a guitar neck, a bridge and a pair of electric pickups, which he then deposited in the hollowed-out body of an Epiphone guitar. Though Paul's axe was about as awkward-looking as the Frankenstein monster, the ideas and innovations that led to its creation were eventually incorporated into the first solid-body electric ever manufactured by the Gibson Guitar Corporation — a model known as the "Les Paul."

(Contrary to popular belief, however, Paul didn't actually invent the solid-body guitar; Leo Fender was working on one at the same time Paul was tinkering with "The Log," and the Rickenbacker company issued a solid-body of its own in the 1930s.)

Introduced in 1952, the Gibson Les Paul has long since become one of the iconic axes of rock n' roll, prized for its beefy sound, singing sustain and fast-playing neck. The guitar's adherents have included Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Pete Townshend, Neil Young, Duane Allman, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, Ace Frehley of Kiss, Slash of Guns N' Roses and Velvet Revolver, and Ozzy Osbourne's right-hand men Randy Rhoads and Zakk Wylde, to name but a few — and nearly every guitar manufacturer has since "borrowed" some of the Les Paul's innovations for their own axes.

And yet, despite the guitar's popularity among hard rockers, Paul himself remained true to his musical roots, recording with country picker Chet Atkins in the 1970s and playing weekly residencies at New York City jazz clubs throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Still, he was always happy to share the stage with the young guns who idolized him, and he retained his charming Midwestern modesty 'til the end. Honored last year at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's American Music Masters Concert, he joked, "Everybody thought I was a guitar until I played here tonight."

According to a press release issued by Gibson Guitars, Paul died from respiratory failure at a hospital in White Plains, New York, surrounded by friends and family. Of course, the Wizard of Waukesha had more friends than could ever fit into a hospital room, and his "family" extends at this point to just about anyone who's ever rocked a solid-body guitar or run a mixing desk. If you listen today to any music made in the last 60 years, spare a kind thought and a prayer for ol' Les — because chances are good that, in one way or another, he had something to do with it. — Dan Epstein

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