The 36th Annual TEC Awards – A Retrospective
In January, Believe in Music Week will gather the global industry and one of The NAMM Show’s most exciting events, the TEC Awards, is slated to present its 36th installment. The annual awards, honor “individuals, companies, and technical innovations behind the sound of recordings, live performances, films, television, video games, and multi-media.”
The TEC (Technical Excellence and Creativity) Awards began in 1985 when Mix magazine wanted to acknowledge and honor the work of audio professionals. In 2011, The NAMM Show became the new home to the exciting awards program, this year honoring nominees across 22 Technical Achievement and seven Creative Achievement categories. David Scwartz, co-founder of the TEC Awards said, “The TEC Awards began as an effort to recognize high quality engineering and innovative design, and we are thrilled that the awards have continued for 35 years to encourage excellence in an industry born of innovation.” In addition, two awards are presented each year to industry luminaries: TEC Awards Hall of Fame, which honors pioneers of audio technology, as well as the music industry’s most accomplished producers and audio technicians, and The Les Paul Innovation Award. Presented on behalf of the Les Paul Foundation, The Les Paul Innovation Award honors individuals that have set the highest standards of excellence in the creative application of artistry in the spirit of the famed audio pioneer, inventor and musician, Les Paul.
The TEC Awards Hall of Fame inducted its first class in 1988 and included iconic audio pioneer Bob Liftin, who began his career at CBS, working on radio soap operas and live television. In the 1950s, Liftin launched Regent Sound Studios in New York City and was a co-founder of the Society of Professional Audio Recording Services (SPARS). Also included in the inaugural class of TEC Awards Hall of Fame was legend Les Paul. Paul, best known for his role in developing and furthering the popularity of the electric guitar and the iconic Gibson Les Paul guitar, the engineer was also known for multi-track recording, early guitar effects, and popular recordings with his wife, Mary Ford, and was also a frequent visitor to the NAMM Show, appearing at the Gibson booth starting in the 1950s to meet with fans and sign autographs.
Named after one of the industry’s most respected contributors, the Les Paul Innovation Award first recipient in 1991 was engineer Bob Ludwig who worked with the likes of Led Zeppelin, Queen, Jimi Hendrix, among others. Also included in 1991 was Clair Brothers, who pioneered numerous products that revolutionized live sound, and Power Station Studios, which was built by Tony Bongiovi and churned out great acts like David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, and Bob Dylan that same year. Other honorees over the years include Joni Mitchell, Peter Frampton, Joe Perry (Aerosmith, Hollywood Vampires), Slash (Guns N’ Roses), Don Was (Was, Not Was), Lindsey Buckingham (Fleetwood Mac), Pete Townshend, Stevie Wonder, Todd Rundgren, and others.
Along with the awards, the TEC Committee has annually inducted products into The Technology Hall of Fame. Founded in 2004 by George Petersen, editor for FOH magazine, since 2015, the product inductions have been presented by NAMM’s Museum of Making Music. On average, ten products are inducted each year and are selected by the Committee as those “audio products and innovations that have made a significant contribution to the advancement of audio technology.” Products inducted in 2004 include the 1877 Thomas Edison cylinder phonograph, 1906 Triode vacuum tube, 1973 JBL 4311 studio monitors, among many others.
The nominees for the 36th annual TEC Awards can be found at https://www.tecawards.org/nominees-for-36th-tec-awards-announced. For more information about the TEC Awards visit https://www.tecawards.org/ or http://legacy.tecawards.org/index.html.