LIVINGSTON, NJ- A Musical Tribute to Les Paul and Mary Ford took place at the Livingston Library on Tuesday, May 21. Musicians Tom Doyle and Sandy Cory performed and told stories about Les Paul and Mary Ford and their interactions with them.
About 100 people attended the event to watch the duet play 10 of Paul and Ford's hit songs. Tom Doyle was on guitar, a Les Paul priced at over $10,000, and Sandy Cory played flute, backup guitar, vocals, and percussion.
The set list included the following: Bye, Bye Blues, Sentimental Journey, Moonglow, Dee da Doo, Just One More, Chance, See You in My Dreams, Vaya con Dios, The World is Waiting for the Sunrise, Tin Pan Alley, and How High is the Moon?
Doyle told the audience how he met Les Paul and how he knew the neighborhood where Les Paul lived. He said that at age 16, he convinced a friend to drive him around the neighborhood where they saw a man get out of a car with a guitar.
“I knew that had to be his house,” Doyle said. When he knocked on the door, a man answered, asking what he wanted. Doyle replied, “I'm friends with Les Paul, I'm a guitarist, let me talk to Les” to which the man replied “Okay, let me get him.” The man closed the door and did not come back.
A few months later, Doyle found himself playing “Bye, Bye, Blues” in a club, and the same man who answered the door turned out to be in attendance. At the end of the show, he came up to Doyle and said “hey, you are pretty good. My name is Les Paul,” and they had a friendly relationship ever since.
“Listening to Les's music in the 1950's was like listening to something from outer-space," said Doyle. “You would have over 22 layers of music in one recording, which today is easy with computers, but back then you had to do it all in one recording, with one guitar.” Les Paul and Mary Ford did not have a recording studio, in stead they “recorded their hits in the hotel room, the hall way, kitchen, living room, shower, closet, anywhere that could be tested for sound, never in a studio in those early days.”
When Doyle played “How High is the Moon?”, he discussed how “people went crazy trying to figure out how to play the intro,” which is very layered and technical, however “one night Les showed it to me."
Les Paul and Mary Ford together had 36 hits, and by 1954, had sold over 50 million records which was “unseen before that time” according to Doyle. The best thing about Les Paul and Mary Ford's music was, according to Doyle, that they “had sound like no one else, (they) created their own, new sound to do what they did.”