By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Aug 13, 2009 at 11:15 AM

New York-area media reports that Waukesha native, legendary guitarist and musical inventor Les Paul died Thursday at the age of 94.

According to media reports, Paul died of complications from pneumonia at White Plains Hospital in Westchester County, N.Y., with his family and friends at his side.

Paul returned to Milwaukee last year as part of "Les Paul's House of Sound," an extensive exhibit focusing on his career and his inventions at Discovery World.

"The Waukesha native's inventions and developments virtually revolutionized the way we think of music today in any number of ways -- from developing the solid body electric guitar that bears his name to portable sound recording gear to sound-on-sound multi track technology," wrote Blaine Schultz on when the exhibition opened.

"Paul's life has been a restless journey. He is that rare right and left brained individual who can build a guitar as well as play it."

Paul, who continued to perform as a guitarist, will be missed by many, although his contributions have had such a fundamental impact on American music and pop culture that he is not likely to be forgotten soon.

"We at Discovery World are terribly saddened by the passing of Les Paul.  Les was not only a valued, native son of Wisconsin but a true legend in the world of music.  Today we all lost an accomplished musician, a technical wizard and, most importantly, a dear, valued friend", said Joel Brennan, president of Discovery World today.
"Not only was Les a true innovator and tinkerer but he faced many adversities in his life.  Regardless, he always met them with a sense of humor and a can-do spirit.  When we designed the House of Sound, we tried to reflect that attitude.  In reality, though, there was and always will be just one Les Paul," added Paul Krajniak, executive director of Discovery World and the creative mind behind "Les Paul’s House of Sound."

Share your thoughts on this important Wisconsin son using the Talkback feature below.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.