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Les Paul Tribute Show Pics!

Al K

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PHOTOS: Courtesy Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame And Museum

Steve Lukather on lead guitar with Eric on lead vocals.

Eric singing a stirring rendition of "It's Been A Long, Long Time."

Les Paul, Eric and Slash backstage after the show.

Eric poses for a photo with James Burton and Les Paul.

Richie Sambora and Eric at the Les Paul Tribute After-Party.

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Well, I've got to tell you, The Les Paul Tribute was just about as much fun as I have ever had.

From the first minutes of the rehearsal, to the last minutes of the after party, it was nothing short of pure bliss.

It was great getting to work with Luke again. He's one of the best guitarists on the planet. I hadn't seen him since the early 90's, when I was doing some stuff with Dianne Warren, but when we spoke on the phone, he said it felt "like it was yesterday".

Everyone there seemed to be a fan of everyone else. I remember standing just offstage with Luke, Lenny Kaye and Richie Sambora watching Duane Eddy and The Ventures. I looked around at one point, and the looks on their faces were priceless. I think we were all flashing on plugging our first electric guitars into our first amps, in some musty basement, years ago, and learning "Walk Don't Run." But here we all were, watching THE REAL GUYS WHO PLAYED IT! Not one of the originals, plus some young replacement players, IT WAS THE ORIGINAL VENTURES!

Billy Gibbons was SOOOOO COOOOL, I can't begin to tell you. He was doing card tricks for a few of us in the lounge Friday night after rehearsal ( and he was really good )! In person, he's much less like a Texas Biker-billy, and much more like Merlin.

Jeff Baxter is smart as a whip. In addition to being a founding member of Steely Dan, before hooking up with the Doobie Brothers, he's now a highly paid consultant for a number of U.S. defense contractors and the Pentagon. At first, I thought he was joking, but then he pulled out his wallet and started showing me pictures of him standing next to F-16 fighter jets. Google him. His story is amazing.

Turns out Lenny Kaye was in the audience the night the Raspberries ripped the roof off of Carnegie Hall. he told me he's been a fan ever since. Very, very bright guy, and a complete gentleman.

James Burton actually asked me if I'D take a picture with HIM! He told me he'd been talking to his son earlier in the day, and his son was REALLY excited when he heard I was on the show! Go figure. This is the guy standing right behind Elvis and Ricky Nelson in just about every film clip you've ever seen of either of them. He spent the last 10 years with Johnny Cash, right up until his death.

Slash was also as nice a guy as you'll ever meet. He told me he was a BIG Raspberries fan . His two little boys were backstage, both dressed in suits with long spiked hair. They were soooo cute.

Richie Sambora walked onstage and belted out "Wanted Dead Or Alive" and sang it with as much style as Jon BonJovi. He's a great guy, and it goes without saying that everyone there played sensational guitar.

I've never heard so many great guitar "tones" in one night. For most of the night, it was as if the amps were almost transparent. You really heard what the guitars sounded like. I thought Lenny Kaye did an extraordinary job finding that "authentic" tone.

And then Les Paul walked onstage. This is the man who basically invented the solid body guitar and multi-tracking. At 93, he played great and joked with the audience and his combo. He played a 20 or 25 minute set, and then everyone fanned out behind him with our Gibson Les Paul guitars, and launched into an extended version of "Guitar Boogie" to close the show. Les even "high-fived" me as he walked off stage.

When I left, sometime around midnight, Les was still in his dressing room, signing autographs, shaking hands and taking pictures with his fans (which included everyone on the show).

He couldn't have been any nicer. He was obviously having a ball, too.

All in all, it was one for the ages. I can now say i've played with Ringo Starr AND Les Paul. It was quite an evening, and it was an honor to be there.

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