Les Paul died three years ago, but the Gibson ax that bears his name made him immortal in rock circles. Slash, Jimmy Page, Pete Townshend and Billy Joe Armstrong are all Les Paul adherents whose signature versions of that guitar have raked in millions for Gibson. Founded in 1902 in Kalamazoo, Mich., Gibson Guitar created the first electric guitar in 1936, while Paul would create the first solid-body version just a few years later.
The original Kalamazoo plant closed in 1984, but the company's 500 employees in Nashville have been producing 2,500 Les Pauls, Flying Vs, Explorers, SGs and Firebirds every week by hand. Paul and the rock gods would accept nothing less.