Steve Vai Says He Lost Electric Guitar Innovator Les Paul's Autograph Twice

Like anyone who's made a living with the electric guitar, Steve Vai owes a debt of gratitude to the instrument’s chief innovator, Les Paul.

In addition to designing one of the first electric guitars that was ever mass-produced, Les was a legendary player in his own right and continued performing live up until his death in 2009 at age 94.

Vai had the honor of jamming with Les a few times, but he says he will always kick himself for losing the inventor’s autograph twice.

“The first time I performed with him, I asked him to sign [my signature guitar] Evo and he was kind enough to do it. But I made the mistake of not putting any kind of protection over his signature and it faded out.”

Evo is Vai’s name for one of the guitars that he uses most on tour. Unprotected, Les’s signature didn’t stand much of a chance amid all the travel and live concert sweat. But Vai says Les was kind enough to sign the guitar a second time the next time they met.

“This time I covered the signature with some kind of seal, but through the years, it faded again,” Vai added. “So I may own the only guitar that Les Paul signed twice, that doesn’t have his signature on it anymore.”

Vai says he takes comfort knowing that Les would have gotten a laugh out of.

“But he sure had a great sense of humor, and would tell us these funny stories about his youth and career as we all gathered around him as if the Pope was giving mass.”

Photo: Getty Images

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