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Florence producer Paul Epworth scoops Brit prize

By Mark Savage
BBC News entertainment reporter

image captionPaul Epworth produced Florence's album in London's Abbey Road studios

Paul Epworth has been named producer of the year at the Music Producers Guild (MPG) Awards, automatically earning him a Brit Award for best producer.

The award came in recognition of his work on Florence and the Machine's second album, Ceremonials.

Singer Florence Welch praised his lack of "fear or compromise", saying Epworth had given her music "a singular sound".

The London ceremony also saw the Beatles' producer Sir George Martin win an outstanding contribution prize.

Fellow Beatles cohort Glyn Johns, who worked on the troubled Get Back sessions before producing the Eagles, Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan, received the inspiration award.

He choked back tears as he accepted the prize from Rolling Stone Bill Wyman.

"I don't know why," he told the BBC later. "I suppose being recognised by your peers is something you always strive to achieve. And to come here tonight and receive this is an emotional thing."

Icelandic singer Bjork also won the innovation award for her avant-garde approach to recording techniques and experiments with interactive music.

Standing ovation

Sir George's lifetime achievement award was not only for his work with the Beatles, but for recordings he produced for America, Cilla Black, Celine Dion, and Ultravox, not to mention his comedy albums with Peter Sellers, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore.

image captionSir George Martin helped the Beatles realise some of their more complex musical ideas

The prize came almost 50 years to the day since he produced the Beatles' first album, Please Please Me, in a single 10-hour session at Abbey Road Studios.

In a video message, Sir Paul McCartney called the 87-year-old "a great, great guy".

"Thank you for all the great times, and I hope there's many more," he added.

The audience gave the producer a minute-long standing ovation before allowing him to make a speech, which displayed his distinctive modesty and wit.

"I'm so thrilled by this," he began, "because I never thought I'd get any more awards."

"I didn't even think you gave awards to 80-year-olds... and I've been out of work for a few years."

Like all of the evening's winners, his prize came in the form of a gold-plated Shure microphone - commonly known as the "Elvis microphone".

Sir George told the BBC: "It's a very nice award. Some awards are really crap, but this is a nice one.

"I have one little space on the mantelpiece that's still vacant, so this'll do it."

'Constantly inspiring'

Epworth, whose list of clients includes U2, Plan B, Cee-Lo, and Primal Scream, won the producer of the year award in 2010, after co-producing Florence and the Machine's debut album, Lungs.

image captionEpworth and Adele won the Grammy for Song Of The Year in 2012 after co-writing Rolling In The Deep

He was subsequently invited to oversee the whole of Ceremonials. Welch said he had been "the only producer I wanted to work with".

"His innovation and passion are constantly inspiring," she added, "and I am grateful to have worked with him on an album that I am so proud of."

Ceremonials, which included the hit singles Shake It Out and Spectrum, was also named album of the year at the MPG ceremony, which was hosted by BBC 6 Music's Lauren Laverne.

Epworth said he was "very humbled" by the recognition. He said his relationship with Florence worked because "I'm probably as eccentric as she is."

The 38-year-old could add another trophy to his cabinet at the Oscars this month - where Skyfall, the James Bond theme he wrote with Adele, is up for best song.

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