Les Paul – The Wizard of Waukesha

Waukesha is a must-see destination for music lovers and curiosity seekers. It’s the birthplace and lifelong home of music legend and guitar hero, Les Paul. The city welcomes visitors to explore, interact and feel the magic of “The Wizard of Waukesha”, retracing his footsteps in his hometown.

The Man Behind the Solid Body Electric Guitar

Most celebrities leave their hometowns behind after making it big, but Les Paul had nothing but love for Waukesha and his cherished mother who inspired his fascination with the guitar and encouraged his tinkering with sound. A Waukesha native, music legend Les Paul was born in 1915, the second son to Evelyn and George Polsfuss.

The biggest names in the music industry credit Paul for the birth of Rock and Roll. His experimentations with finding the perfect sound led to his invention of the solid body electric guitar, and the development of technology and recording techniques that set the standard in the music industry — tape echo, multi-track recordings and overdubs.

In the early 1950s, Paul and his wife, Mary Ford, had scores of music hits, including 36 gold records. He holds the patent for the 8-track tape recorder and several patents related to the guitar.

Les Paul was called home in 2009 at the age of 94. At his request, he was laid to rest next to his mother at Prairie Home Cemetery in Waukesha.

“Experience Les Paul” at the Nation’s Most Comprehensive Permanent Display

Paul wanted an exhibition in Waukesha that chronicled his journey in the early years and showcased his undying love and devotion to his mom and wife. There are permanent exhibits dedicated to Les Paul at other museums, but close to home is the nation’s most comprehensive account of Paul’s work and influence at the Waukesha County Museum.

The interactive exhibit takes visitors through a re-creation of Paul’s first laboratory — his living room in Waukesha — which features his original piano. A wall of mock guitars lets people wave their hands over the instruments to get an idea of how his different attempts at an electric guitar sounded.

Visitors will also be amazed by the rock stars he influenced throughout his long life, the little known impairments Paul suffered from a serious car accident, and his numerous inventions. Quotations by Paul cover the walls of the exhibit because he liked to tinker with words almost as much as he did with sound. Inspired visitors can share their own dreams at the end of their tour on the “Dream Wall.”

And that “Wizard of Waukesha” moniker? It is actually a nickname Paul gave himself. When you “Experience Les Paul” at the Waukesha County Museum, you’ll discover none of his magic has been lost.

Retrace Les Paul’s Steps Through Waukesha GuitarTown

Did you know Waukesha was chosen by Gibson Guitar to be a host city for its nationally-acclaimed public arts project known as GuitarTown? This tribute to Paul, GuitarTown features 10-foot fiberglass Gibson guitar sculptures, playable guitars and murals artistically designed and displayed throughout the city. Check them out and share in the life, spirit and legacy of Les Paul by taking the self-guided walking tour in Waukesha. Every step retraces his younger years of exploration and innovation to his later years where he and Mary Ford performed together in public for the first time.

The excitement never stops in Waukesha Pewaukee.

Grab a friend and discover the best of Lake Country as you explore the quaint shops, streets and landscape in this gem of a destination, bordered by the beauty of water. There is so much to do, and no need to rush back home. Experience what makes Waukesha Pewaukee unique!

Our Accommodations Rock!

Enjoy your stay at any one of our hotels and lodges that offer that uniquely Wisconsin touch. After a restful and relaxing night, you will be ready to “rock and roll” in Waukesha.

Holiday Inn Pewaukee/Milwaukee West

Whether you’re stay is to be celebratory or refreshing, it’s easy to appreciate the Frank Lloyd Wright inspired design, diverse amenities and simple elegance found in 119 executive class guestrooms that feature oversized bathrooms, custom-crafted furnishings and more. Ample complimentary parking available.


Milwaukee Marriott West

When searching for outstanding accommodations look no further than the 281 newly renovated, luxurious guestrooms and suites featuring complimentary high-speed internet, plushy adorned beds for a restful night and more. The Marriott is pleased to offer indoor pool and whirlpool, fitness center, newly renovated concierge lounge and complimentary parking.


Wildwood Lodge Lake Country

From elegant and unique, to crisp and professional, Wildwood Lodge offers a sophisticated lodge feel among 94 all-suite accommodations with complimentary parking. Unique amenities include complimentary Wi-Fi, 32” flat screen TVs, 7-layer sleep system, warm homemade cookies and deluxe continental breakfast.


How to get here?

It’s so easy! This incredible adventure is right on I94 just an hour east of Madison and 20 minutes west of Milwaukee. Fun? Adventure? Yes and yes. It’s all here, yours to enjoy, in Waukesha Pewaukee — where fun meets adventure. Map it!