Legendary producer and musician Quincy Jones, DJ/producer Norman Cook and veteran singers Peter Gabriel and Yusuf Islam were among the musicians feted today at the 52nd Ivor Novello Awards for songwriters.
The lunchtime gala, affectionately known as the "Ivors," was presented at London's Grosvenor House Hotel by the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters, in association with the Performing Right Society.
The biggest cheers of the day were reserved for multiple Grammy-winner Jones, who received the special international award. Jones, who produced Michael Jackson's "Thriller," the best selling album in history, told the rapturous gathering, "It's taken a long time to get here, but now I feel like a legit Brit."
Gabriel, a former mainstay of Genesis who went on to have a stellar career as a solo artist in the late '70s and through the '80s with songs such as "Sledgehammer", "Don't Give Up" and "Games Without Frontiers," earned the lifetime achievement award. "I always wanted to be as songwriter," Gabriel told Billboard.biz, "so it means a lot [to win an Ivor]."
The "Academy Fellowship," the highest honor of the event, was bestowed to film and television score composer George Fenton.
Meanwhile, Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, added to an impressive collection of honors with the Ivor for outstanding song collection.
The artist had been feted with the songwriter of the year honors last year at the ASCAP Awards in London, for the second successive time. Last November he made a return to the music business with the release of "An Other Cup," his first album of new songs in almost 30 years.
Meanwhile, Cook earned the title for the PRS outstanding contribution to British music. Originally a member of alt-pop act the Housemartins, Cook has worked under various pseudonyms over the years, including Freakpower, Pizzaman, Beats International and his best-known guise, Fatboy Slim.
Breakthrough British melodic rock act the Feeling - comprising members Dan Sells, Kevin Jeremiah, Ciaran Jeremiah, Paul Stewart and Richard Jones - took out the songwriters of the year award, following the No. 2 U.K. albums chart success of their debut album "Twelve Stops and Home."
"This is marvellous. It's the best award we could have hoped for," frontman Sells told Billboard.biz. "We're so happy. It's so incredible the people we are around at the moment."
The PRS most performed work gong went to Elton John, Scott Hoffman and Jason Sellards for the smash Scissor Sister hit "I Don't Feel Like Dancin'," published by HST Management Ltd/Universal Music Publishing/EMI Music Publishing. Sellards (aka Jake Shears) praised John for having gone to such lengths as "tap dancing" and "pulling his eyeballs out" to drag the artist out of a depression last year.
International hit of the year went to Madonna and Stuart Price for "Sorry," published in the U.K. by Warner Chappell Music. Price, who was on hand to receive the trophy, gave an amusing excuse for Madonna's absence. "I think she's probably somersaulting somewhere on a farm in her leotard," he explained.
The record-breaking Arctic Monkeys added to their crowded trophy cabinet with songwriter and frontman Alex Turner grabbing the best album award. The Clash founder Mick Jones, who handed over the trophy, told the audience, "A couple of years ago, these guys were supporting me in Sheffield. Now look at where they are." Turner used his time on stage to apologise for his earlier, bratty, days when he would have "gobbed off and neglected to thank everybody."
Amy Winehouse was a popular winner, taking the best contemporary song award for "Rehab," published by EMI Music Publishing. "I didn't even have time to get drunk," she told the audience. "I've only been here for 15 minutes."
The awards, which celebrate the achievements of the best British composers and musicians from the previous year, are judged either by a panel of BACS members or on sales and broadcast performance.