2007: Les Paul Award for Al Kooper

Al receiving the Les Paul Award.

Musician, producer and composer Al Kooper will be presented with the prestigious Les Paul Award, sponsored by Gibson Guitar, at the 23rd Annual Technical Excellence & Creativity (TEC) Awards, to be held on October 6, 2007, at the New York Marriott Marquis.

Named for the legendary musician and inventor, the Les Paul Award was established in 1991 to honor the lifetime achievements of those whose work has exemplified the creative use of recording technology. Al Kooper joins illustrious former honorees Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Sting, Steely Dan, Peter Gabriel, Bruce Springsteen, Brian Wilson and other innovative artists and producers.

The 2007 recipient is being hailed as a musical innovator for over 40 years in blues, rock, jazz and pop. According to Hillel Resner, president of the Mix Foundation for Excellence in Audio, "Al Kooper has been a trailblazer in recording techniques. His work is always fresh and inventive and especially deserving of this year's Les Paul Award."

"Gibson Guitar is honored to present this year's Les Paul award to Al Kooper, a musician who epitomizes the spirit of rock 'n' roll," said Henry Juszkiewicz, Chairman and CEO of Gibson Guitar. "We celebrate his role in modern music and applaud him on his many talents which have entertained millions of fans for years."

Often referred to as the "Zelig" or "Forrest Gump" of Rock, Al Kooper has managed to turn up – and play a pivotal role– in some of rock's most historical moments. Kooper, who recently released a critically acclaimed solo album, "Black Coffee," shows no sign of slowing down after 49 years in the business. Well known for founding Blood, Sweat and Tears in the mid-sixties, Kooper's work as a producer and musician has made a lasting impact on the soundtrack of some of rock's greatest hits.

As a producer he is best known for discovering Lynyrd Skynyrd and producing their first three albums. He went on to play sessions with Jimi Hendrix, The Who and George Harrison, and teamed with guitarists Michael Bloomfield and Stephen Stills to record the top ten album "Super Session." He has produced albums for clients including The Tubes, Nils Lofgren, Ray Charles, B.B. King, The Staple Singers, Bob Dylan, Joe Ely, Green on Red and many others.

Author of Backstage Passes & Backstabbing Bastards, Kooper also scored Hal Ashby's first film "The Landlord," John Waters's film "Cry Baby," Michael Mann's TV series "Crime Story" and Peter Riegert's recent directorial debut "King of the Corner."

I guess you just wait until you're old and then if you're lucky, some people eventually review your life's work and "get it." This means a lot to me because I was selected by my peers; people who lead similar lives to mine; people in the same lines of work - technology maniacs! Not to mention being presented the award by it's namesake, my lifetime hero, the amazing 92 year old Les Paul. Looking forward to that night. In 1994 I MC'ed those awards and had a great time. Phil Spector won that year. I'll leave the obvious joke out here as I feel badly for his current situation. I wouldn't be here today without all the production nuggets I gleaned from that man.

BACK BEAT BOOKS will be publishing my updated autobiography "Backstage Passes & Backstabbing Bastards" in April of 2008. I know many of you have written in about trying to find a copy since it went out-of-print in 2002, and I am happy to announce this and hopefully kill some Ebay sales at over $150 a book !

And along those lines, "Soul Of A Man," a double live album that I heartily endorse, but that is extremely hard to purchase since it's 1995 debut, has fallen into my hands again. albeit as a second printing. The packaging & booklet are waaaay different looking than the original package, but all the music & info remain the same inside.