No two ways about it--Les Paul was a genius. When he passed away at age 94 on August 13, 2009, America lost a national treasure. He was the father of the solid body electric guitar, an inventor, and a great guitarist. His obituary in the New York Times details all of that.
Up till near the end of his life, Les played two shows every Monday night at the Iridium Club in New York City. Mary and I saw him play there three times. Normally, Les came out into the audience after the second show to meet and greet fans and sign autographs. The first and second times we went to the early show, but when we went to the Iridium last year with our English friends Nigel and Judith, we went to the second show so I could get an autograph from Les. I took a copy of the sheet music to Mockin' Bird Hill, which was a hit for Les and Mary Ford in 1951. Unfortunately, the club's air conditioning wasn't working on that Monday night, and Les was exhausted after the second show. It was announced that he would not come into the club after the show. I tried to unsuccessfully to convince one of the band members to take my sheet music backstage and get it signed. Being a persistent English woman--stiff upper lip and all that--our friend Judith took my sheet music and Sharpie and managed to get backstage and get the autograph, pleading that she had come all the way from England to get it.
And here it is (my scanner isn't big enough to get the whole cover of the sheet music):