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Les Paul and his wife Mary Ford were cresting in popularity in 1955. They had their final top 10 hit with “Hummingbird” and released their studio album Les and Mary, which reached number 15 on the Billboard chart. The album included their marvelous, under-appreciated foray into exotica “Tico, Tico” as part of an adventurous blend of songs ranging from Hank Snow’s country hit “I’m Movin’ On” to Rogers and Hart’s “Falling in Love with Love.”

It was also the final year of TV’s Les Paul and Mary Ford Show, also known as Les Paul and Mary Ford At Home. The show was a shorty – only five minutes long, and used as an interlude to fill in gaps in programming. But with its theme song “Vaya Con Dios,” Paul and Ford’s most popular tune, it kept the couple in the limelight and maintained their standing as a major concert draw.

What’s cool about the show, which was broadcast in 1954 and 1955, is that it was scripted, filmed and recorded by Paul himself in his and Mary’s home. And somewhere the original tapes of its episodes still exist and, in fact, were being restored and digitized by Paul at the time of his death on August 12, 2009 at age 94.

What’s also cool – and zesty, and refreshing – is the show’s sponsor, the mouthwash Listerine. But not as cool as the stunning multi-tracked guitar flourish leading into “Vaya Con Dios” that Paul constructed to appear over an image of a Listerine bottle to kick off the show. It’s a gorgeous flash of his studio skill and his driving desire to get the cleanest and biggest tone possible from his Gibson Les Paul Custom model guitar, which, in 1955, had been available for just a year.

Paul’s first regular broadcasting success was on radio. In 1950, before his string of major hits with Mary began, he hosted a 15-minute program on the NBC network featuring his Les Paul Trio playing a repertoire of pop and jazz instrumentals. That year Paul and Ford had their initial smash with a top 10 version of “Tenessee Waltz,” and Paul’s transition from jazzman and sideman to pop superstar began.

Much had changed a decade after the last Les Paul and Mary Ford Show was taped. Paul and Ford were divorced in 1964, their marriage a victim of the toils and tensions of the touring musician’s life. And a year later Paul went into semi-retirement, but still worked tirelessly on guitar and studio inventions, and continued to record on occasion, winning multiple Grammy awards in the process. And in the ‘80S he returned to the stage, appearing weekly in New York City – first at the tiny Fat Tuesdays and then at Iridium, where he help court until he was hospitalized shortly before his death.