Jack White accepted the top honour at a celebration hosted by the Grammys’ Producers and Engineers wing last night (February 8), making a joke at the expense of controversial Donald Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway in his subsequent speech.
White was honoured by the organisation during their 10th annual event in LA, which has previously seen the likes of Neil Young, Nile Rodgers and Rick Rubin recognised for their work. The event is typically held in the week before the Grammy Awards, which this year – its 59th edition – will take place on Sunday (February 12).
Speaking to the audience after accepting the honour, White – who has picked up 12 Grammys during the course of his career – gave a five-minute speech that began with a jibe at Trump’s Counselor.
“I had a speech prepared by Kellyanne Conway and [music industry blogger] Bob Lefsetz, but I left it in the car on the way here, so I’m just going to wing it,” White said.
White then referenced his early beginnings in recording, recalling how his brother Joe sent him a a four-track reel-to-reel and sound mixer so he could record in his bedroom.
“In that bedroom I learned a lot about how to do things under restriction,” White said. “You’d record something and erase it if it wasn’t good enough; you’d erase it, and it was gone forever. Which is something that, I think, is becoming few and far between in the new generation, where you can record a million times and keep all of them. I still work that [old-school] way, and that kind of restriction, I think, is really important.”
He also spoke about the experience of recording The White Stripes‘ second album (2000’s ‘De Stijl’) in his living room on an 8-track.
“At one point doing the album, we were recording a cover of Son House’s ‘Death Letter’,” he remembered. “We’re playing for about a minute and Meg [White] stops and has this fear-of-God look on her face, completely frozen. I’m just playing, and I don’t understand what’s going on. I stopped and said, ‘What?’ She didn’t saying anything. I didn’t know what was going on.
“I turned around, and there was a 300-pound drunk man standing in my living room, who had just been walking down the street and walked into the house. When you record under that kind of duress, I think you really learn a lot about constriction!”
Watch Jack White’s acceptance speech in full here.