On Tuesday, Nov. 12, AKG microphones honored 28-time Grammy winner (and 80-time nominee—nearly one for every year he’s lived) Quincy Jones with its AKG Lifetime Achievement Award. The evening—what AKG titled A History in the Making—was also a celebration of AKG’s 70 years in the business. Like AKG, Jones has been in the industry for nearly as many years himself.
Patterned after AKG’s C414 XLII microphone, the award was bestowed at Capitol Studios witnessed by a crushed-to-capacity Studio A. “Q,” as he was christened by Frank Sinatra, is the man behind such records as the “We Are the World” single, the chart-topping Back on the Block and (as if anyone truly needs to be reminded) Michael Jackson’s Thriller, the biggest-selling album of all time (again, as if anyone truly needs, etc).
To kick off the night, Jones’ protégé Jacob Collier was tapped to tickle a few slices of music history on Capitol’s battle-hardened grand piano. He wrapped his three-song set with an audience sing-along of his slowed and softened rendition of George Benson's "Give Me the Night." It was a suitable walk-up song for Q since its parent LP of the same name was the inaugural release of his label Qwest in 1980.
In his brief acceptance address, Jones began with a light joke. “This is amazing,” he observed of the award and the night. “But I’ll take it.” The 86 year-old legend closed with “I wish everybody a long, long life filled with love to share, health to spare and, most importantly, friends who care. That’s the most important in life.”
Earlier in the evening, a 30-minute Q&A moderated by producer and presenter Nic Harcourt (who also presented Jones with his award) was held with Doctor Sean Olive, who’s been with AKG for 27 years. In addition to a historical overview, Olive discussed the future of headphones in general and AKG’s in particular. He suggested that in the coming years, “Immersive audio will be a big deal. Immersive, three-dimensional sound.”
AKG is now owned by HARMAN, itself a subsidiary of Samsung Electronics. In addition to a range of microphones and related products, AKG has issued a number of signature-line headphones in collaboration with Jones since 2010. Included in the line are the over-the-ear Q701, the lightweight Q460 and, more recently, the N90Q, which boasts a studio-quality sound by way of automatic input adjustment.