I'll never forget working in my early twenties at Sam Ash Music in Paramus, New Jersey. I was a salesman there in the recording department, barely getting by, but really enjoying the cast of characters that worked and shopped at the store. I found one of my best friends at that store, and I still enjoy going back there to this day.
We had lots of fun times both inside the store and around New Jersey, and even if there were dull moments occasionally, you could be sure that something exciting would be happening soon. You have to be a certain type of weird to work at a music store, and it's a good weird.
We had lots of interesting artists come to do clinics at the store. Bass masters like Victor Wooten, heavy metal icons like Kerry King of Slayer, drum stars like Tommy Igoe, and then there was the legend...Les Paul.
I remember being extremely excited to meet one of the most famous names in guitar of all time. Les was a pioneer of guitar, multitrack recording, and so much more. When Les came to Sam Ash it was to promote a Gibson anniversary.
He stayed there and signed autographs for everyone who came out to see him, and there were so many people in line. When it was my turn to talk to Les, I didn't get an autograph, I just asked him a question. I said, Les you've done it all, what do you want to do next? He waited a couple of seconds and contemplated what he was going to say, and then he said "I want to write another number one hit!"
A few weeks later Les Paul passed away, and the guitar community lost a huge icon. Les still played at the Iridium jazz club in NY as often as he could, made it out to events, and was a genuinely nice person.
Today is a different day and age for guitar players. There's an air of competition between guitarists. While looking to other guitar players as a source of inspiration, that's healthy. But there seems to be a bit of toxicity in some of the various online guitar communities today.
At the end of the day, with all that he accomplished, Les Paul still stayed humble, wanted to help other guitar players, and always took time out to talk to other musicians who approached him.
How can you help other guitar players today?
One of the best ways to get better at guitar is to teach other players who aren't at your level yet. If you've been practicing, there's always going to be someone who you can teach, and even as an advanced player, there's a big possibility you have something to learn from a beginner guitar player.
Who can you help out today? Always remember to stay humble!