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Pete Townshend receives 2013 Les Paul Award

January 28, 2013|By Randy Lewis
  • Pete Townshend, right, the Who's lead guitarist and main songwriter, was presented the Les Paul Award by Martin Lewis at the TEC Awards ceremony Friday in Anaheim.
Pete Townshend, right, the Who's lead guitarist and main songwriter,… (Le Studio )

This post has been updated. See note below for details.

Four of the key bands from the 1960s British Invasion were represented Friday in Anaheim when the Who’s lead guitarist and main songwriter, Pete Townshend, was given the Les Paul Award at the annual TEC Awards ceremony, part of the annual NAMM music products convention.

Townshend was serenaded by Eric Burdon of the Animals, who sang “The Seeker,” while ex-Beatle Paul McCartney put together a video greeting saluting his longtime friend and fellow Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member. Not on camera but also sending in a letter of congratulations was Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger.

Additionally, guitarist Laurence Juber, who has collaborated with McCartney and Townshend, played an acoustic version of the “Who’s Next” cornerstone song “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” Julia Fordham sang a pair of songs from Townshend’s long-shelved, belatedly completed “Lifehouse” rock opera, “The Song Is Over” and “Pure and Easy,” and 19-year-old L.A. newcomer Bree Kennedy handled “I Can’t Explain,” the Who’s first hit.

Townshend himself joined in for the finale performance of his 1980 solo single, “Let My Love Open the Door.” Lovin’ Spoonful frontman John Sebastian served as emcee for the event at the Anaheim Hilton.

During a backstage interview with British producer and humorist Martin Lewis, who presented Townshend with his award for musical and technical achievements, Townshend said Paul’s role as an innovator of recording technology was every bit as important to him as Paul’s more widely known reputation as the creator of his namesake line of electric guitars.

Paul’s advancements in multi-track recording played a major role in the vistas Townshend explored in the late 1960s and early 1970s as the Who’s recordings became more sonically and musically sophisticated.

“For me, probably the biggest moment was with ‘Quadrophenia,’ where I was recording on eight-track at home and a lot of those eight-track backing tracks with synthesizers, many guitars, piano, keyboards and things like that were actually used on the Who’s albums. We all have Les Paul to thank for that,” Townshend said.

“He was a fabulous personality, and a very kind man," he added. "He gave me one of his guitars once -- one of his home guitars -- and I miss him terribly. I only met him four or five times, but I miss him terribly. He was such a fabulous man, and really, really a great genius and innovator.”

Townshend piggybacked his NAMM awards appearance with the opening of a new leg of the Who’s “Quadrophenia” tour, which stops Monday at the Honda Center in Anaheim and Wednesday at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Update at 1:36 p.m.: An earlier edition of this post misidentified "The Seeker" as a track from "Tommy." It was originally released only as a single. Townshend's "Lifehouse" rock opera also was identified as "never finished" project. He belatedly completed and released a version of "Lifehouse" in 2000.

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