‘How High the Moon,’ Les Paul and Mary Ford

Mary Ford and Les Paul, in a vintage publicity photo.

Mary Ford and Les Paul, in a vintage publicity photo.

There has been a lot of hoopla this year about the 100th anniversary of the birth of Frank Sinatra, and there will be much more to come. But 2015 also marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of another musical icon from New Jersey: Les Paul, who was not raised in the Garden State, but lived in Mahwah for most of his life.

Some events are planned to honor Paul, too, including a concert at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York on June 9 at which the performers will include Joe Bonamassa, Warren Haynes, Steve Miller, Joe Satriani, Neal Schon of Journey, Steve Vai, Johnny A, Count’s 77 and the Les Paul Trio (featuring Lou Pallo).

Paul is well known, of course, for many reasons, including his crucial work in the development of the electric guitar and multitrack recording, and the nightclub appearances he made into his 90s (he died in 2009, at 94). But in the ’40s and ’50s, he was a bona fide pop star. Below is a video of him and his wife Mary Ford making a television appearance in 1951 to promote their No. 1 hit, “How High the Moon.”

“How High the Moon,” written by Nancy Hamilton and Morgan Lewis, comes from a 1940 Broadway revue titled “Two for the Show,” and has been recorded many times since then, though this version is the definitive one, due to Paul’s energetic playing and the rich sound of Ford’s multilayered vocals.

New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday in 2014. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, from September 2014 to September 2015 — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. To see the entire list, click here.


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