The Who guitarist Pete Townshend was honored with the prestigious Les Paul Award at the 28th annual Technical Excellence & Creativity Awards on Friday.
Townshend was selected for the prize, named after electric guitar pioneer Les Paul, in recognition of his achievements in audio technology and production. The TEC Awards celebrate the work of audio professionals, and Townshend recalled his own early attempts at recording music as he picked up his trophy at the ceremony in Anaheim, California.
"When I was 17 or 18, I got a couple of tape machines at home, and in the tradition of the great, great, great Les Paul and a couple of other people who did the same thing, I took these machines into my home and took these machines into my home to write music," he said. "From that moment on, I waited and waited and waited, and every idea that I ever had, or every hope that I ever had for a device that would do something that I wanted to do, you fabulous people made it for me."
He added, "I've been lucky that I could afford expensive equipment and eventually a studio, and you can see me at home fiddling with different machines. But out on the road now, with iPads and other bits and pieces, I'm very capable of doing things with those things as well. I just need to carry my guitars, keyboards, and cables, my mic stands!"
Townshend is in good company as the latest recipient of the Les Paul Award -- previous winners include Sir Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Brian Wilson, Stevie Wonder and Neil Young.
This was a little more credible than the Kennedy Center Honor for the Who. They are heavy rock pioneers, no question. However, I'm convinced that they were given what should have been our more discriminating answer to the knighthood because three of their songs were used for the "CSI" franchise on CBS, where the Honors are televised. Usually the Honor is given to performing artists whose work is an absolute turning point in their field and I'm not sure in my gut how much of it was.
And Townsend would come to just bang his guitars at the end of concerts. In "The Kids Are Alright," Townsend recalled that fans would yell "Smash your guitar, Pete. Smash your guitar" and get upset that he wasn't.