Lester William Polsfuss was born on June 9, 1915 in Waukesha, Wisconsin and Iris Colleen Summers was born on July 7, 1924, in Pasadena, California. As Les Paul & Mary Ford they together revolutionized the recording industry and dominated the Hit Parade with their unique sound.
Les Paul is credited as a pioneer in the development of the electric guitar and the father of multi-track recording. Dropping out of high school in his teens he was performing as a country music guitarist on KMOX radio in St. Louis, Missouri and in the 1930’s as a jazz musician on radio in Chicago, Illionos.
Les Paul teamed with Mary Ford, a country music singer in 1946 and by 1949 they were married. Using the technique created by Les, Mary was recorded singing multi harmony resulting in a #1 Hit Parade topper in April, 1951, “Mockin’ Bird Hill,” followed that summer with another #1 hit, “How High the Moon” and two more top five hits “The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise” and “Just One More Chance,” before that year would end.
They hit in 1952 with, “Tiger Rag,” “In the Good Old Summertime,” “I’m Confessin’ that I Love You.” “Smoke Rings” and a top five instrumental from Les “Meet Mr. Callaghan.” In the top ten of 1953 were “Bye, Bye Blues” and “I’m Sitting On Top Of The World.”
But it was the song that stayed on the charts for a record breaking 35 weeks, 11 weeks straight at #1, “Vaya Con Dios” that was the biggest hit of their career. The flip side, “Johnny Is The Boy For Me,” also nearly landed in the top ten.
In 1954 their were three more top ten hits, “Whither Thou Goest,” “I Really Don’t Want To Know” and “I’m A Fool To Care.”
Mary Ford died in Arcadia, California on September 30, 1977. She was 53 years of age. Les Paul died on August 13, 2009 at 84 years of age in White Plains, New York.
Les Paul and Mary Ford have also been honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 1978 Les Paul and Mary Ford were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 1983, Les received a Grammy Trustees Award for his lifetime achievements. In 2006 at the age of 90, Les Paul won two more Grammys. He was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. The duo was inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame in 2009.