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As a young cop in the early '80s, Jim Wysocki had never even heard of the musical innovator, but a phone call at the station one winter night changed his life forever.

Jim Wysocki poses with a Danelectro that Les Paul gave him in 1981.

Jim Wysocki is a retired Mahwah, New Jersey, police officer and longtime friend of the late guitar legend, inventor, and musical innovator Les Paul. Their friendship began when Jim was just out of high school and grew into a relationship that lasted more than 29 years. Over the course of that friendship, Les presented Jim with a handful of vintage guitars, artifacts, and musical relics. Jim now displays many of these priceless mementos at a museum in Mahwah, and also shares his collection through the occasional Gibson bus tour—allowing anyone who is interested to touch, hold, and play Les’ gear.

Born Lester Polsfuss in 1915, Les Paul spent his life searching for the perfect sound, leading him to become one of the pioneers of the solidbody electric guitar and the multitrack tape recorder, as well as of rock ’n’ roll in general. A tinkerer and a firm believer in DIY, Les would make it if it wasn’t out there and he needed it—that’s just the kind of person he was. Les Paul died in 2009. He would have been 100 this year.

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