John Denner Guitarist

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Les Paul

John Denner / Les Paul

John Denner / Les Paul

NEW YORK (AP) – A yearlong celebration marking guitarist Les Paul’s 100th birthday kicks off in Times Square next week.

It’ll begin with Neal Schon of the rock band Journey accepting a proclamation from the Les Paul Foundation declaring June 9 as Les Paul Day.

Organizers say other cities around the country also will declare Les Paul Day proclamations that day.

Les Paul’s Big Sound Experience, a 53-foot-long interactive mobile exhibition, will then open to the public – for one day only before going on a national tour.

That evening, the Hard Rock Cafe New York will host performances by numerous musicians including Joe Bonamassa and Steve Miller.

A Les Paul memorabilia exhibition will run at the same venue through June 15.

Paul, whose hits songs include “How High the Moon,” died in 2009.

Les Paul designed a solid-body electric guitar in 1941, but by the time it was ready for production by Gibson in 1952, Leo Fender had already mass-produced the Fender Broadcaster four years earlier, thus beating Paul to popular credit for the invention. Nonetheless, the Les Paul acquired a devoted following, and its versatility and balance made it the favored guitar of many rock guitarists.

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