Memories of Les Paul: Julie Hagopian
Memories of Les: Julie Hagopian
“I never get starstruck. I’ve met names like Bon Jovi, Chicago, Ok Go, Vince Vaughn, Taylor Swift, and many more, mostly during my time in the Notre Dame Band of the Fighting Irish. The one person I ever clammed up in front of was the legendary Les Paul.
It was under unfortunate circumstances that we met the early summer of 2009. Both he and I were admitted to Valley Hospital and were on opposite sides of the same floor. I had overheard the nurses discussing the star in their ward and decided to drag myself out of bed and head over to his room. Although I was rather weak from my own illness, I felt invigorated to meet the man who revolutionized music as we know it. I quietly knocked on the ajar door and he opened his eyes. I introduced myself as a fellow musician (yet next to him, certainly not worthy of calling myself that). He asked me what instruments I played; I told him woodwinds, mostly tenor saxophone. He was genuine, warm, and interested in my mundane story.
Like a true musician, he asked me to sing to match his tone. I was nervous and promptly went sharp. He giggled and patted my hand and told me to practice. We tried again and it went better. He smiled and told me to keep playing, always keep playing. I asked him for his autograph and he kindly consented. It wasn’t too long after that he went “to play the big gig in the sky.”
I am supremely grateful to have met him; his contributions to the musical world were the catalyst for a new era of innovation and he was a genuinely good human being. Our short five minute discussion has stayed with me since and I expect will stay with me forever. I suppose if there’s anyone to be starstruck in front of, who better than Les Paul?”