The NAMM TEC Committee is pleased to announce pioneer and bassist extraordinaire Carol Kaye as the recipient of this year’s Les Paul Innovation Award alongside top hitmaker, producer, and performer, Peter Asher, who will be inducted to the NAMM TEC Hall of Fame. The Les Paul Innovation Award is given on behalf of the Les Paul Foundation to honor 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 Hall of Fame induction includes an award that recognizes pioneers of audio technology and the music industry’s most accomplished producers and audio technicians. Kaye and Asher will be honored in-person at the 37th Annual NAMM Technical Excellence & Creativity Awards (TEC Awards) on Saturday, June 4, at The 2022 NAMM Show in Anaheim, California.
Michael Braunstein, Executive Director of The Les Paul Foundation says “This year’s Les Paul Innovation Award recipient is a legend in the music industry and a very well deserving individual that played with Les during her career. Carol pioneered a path that pushed open the door for many women in the business and with it, built a legacy that will continue to encourage all people to create incredible sounds just like Les did. Congratulations Carol and welcome to the prestigious list of awardees that celebrate our friend, Les Paul.”
With a career spanning decades, Carol Kaye is not only a pioneer in the male-dominated world of pop recording sessions, but one of the industry’s most prolific musicians. Kaye can be heard on more than 10,000 recordings – from timeless, classic songs to TV and movie scores of almost every kind.
The child of professional musicians, she began playing in 1949 as a professional jazz guitarist in bands around Los Angeles, performing alongside acts such as Jack Sheldon, Teddy Edwards, Billy Higgins, and Bob Neal, all while giving guitar lessons. In 1957, Kaye moved into studio work, notably performing guitar on Sam Cooke’s “Summertime” and “What a Wonderful World.”
In 1963, Kaye switched to the bass guitar when a fellow musician failed to show up for a recording session. Soon she was setting the bass line, often creating her own, and fueling creativity in the sessions.
Her signature style can be heard alongside artists including Herb Alpert; the Beach Boys; Glen Campbell; Ray Charles; Joe Cocker; Dean Martin; Elvis Presley; Lou Rawls; the Righteous Brothers; Simon and Garfunkel; Frank Sinatra; Nancy Sinatra; Sonny and Cher; Barbara Streisand; Frank Zappa and many more. Notably, Kaye played on Campbell’s “Wichita Lineman,” The Beach Boy’s “Good Vibrations,” Cocker’s “Feelin’ Alright,” the Monkees’ “I’m A Believer,” and many other top hits, as well the themes to Mission Impossible, Shaft, and all of Quincy Jones’ movies in the 1960s and 70s.
In addition to her time playing, she has authored over 27 bass tutoring books and instructional videos. Her definitive method book, How To Play The Electric Bass, and others, have been cited dozens of times by current studio musicians as their primary source of instruction.
View her Oral History from the NAMM Resource Center: HERE
With the receipt of the award, Kaye joins a list of Les Paul winners that include the likes of Joni Mitchell (2020), Peter Frampton (2019), Slash (2015), Pete Townsend (2013), Paul McCartney (2000) and many others.
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