Johnny Marr receives Boss Lifetime Achievement Award at NAMM Believe in Music Week

Johnny Marr received Boss' Lifetime Achievement Award
(Image credit: Niall Lea)

NAMM 2021 isn't taking place in the physical realm this year, but you'll find all the hottest January gear launches in our guide to the biggest guitar, amp and pedal releases of 2021 so far.

NAMM Believe in Music Week kicked off on January 18, and among the highlights so far has been Boss presenting its sixth-annual Lifetime Achievement Award to electric guitar icon Johnny Marr.

The Boss Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes individuals for their contributions to the music industry while using Boss gear throughout their careers.

Marr, of course, began his career in the 1980s with the Smiths, quickly becoming established as one of the most influential songwriters and guitarists in British music. He’s enjoyed success as a solo artist since, and has collaborated with acts including Talking Heads, Electronic, Modest Mouse, the Cribs, the Avalanches, Hans Zimmer and Billie Eilish, recently recording the score and soundtrack for the forthcoming James Bond film, No Time to Die.

Opening the awards presentation, Roland Europe Head of Artist Relations Jamie Franklin said, “In terms of inspiring a generation to pick up a guitar and think differently about tone, melody, and life changing music, no one comes to mind more than Johnny Marr.”

Boss President Yoshi Ikegami presented Marr with the award, and during his acceptance Marr thanked Ikegami and Boss for the CE-2 Chorus, explaining how the pedal was “such a big part” of his sound in the Smiths.

He also recalled getting his first pedal in 1980, a purple Boss BF-2 Flanger.

“I got it because, and I was 16 or 17, the guitar sounds were changing,” Marr said. “It was a shift in the way new musicians were playing, and a big part of it was that Boss Flanger pedal.

“Musicians like John McGeoch, who was playing with Siouxsie and the Banshees and Magazine, he was a big flanger guy, and the Cure as well. Bands like that were coming out. We were changing the approach of guitar.”

Among the artists congratulating Marr on the award were Sting guitarist Rufus Miller, who said, “I remember being a teenager, even younger than that, and hearing your jangly guitar parts, and the way you played was so original, the arpeggios, everything. I think everyone has taken something from it. And the way you’ve adapted to join all of these different bands is just phenomenal. You are a huge inspiration.”

Also commenting was Broken Social Scene bassist and guitarist Andrew Whiteman, who added, “Me, like ten-thousands of others, we listen to that guitar player, and we hear the ‘saudade,’ the Brazilian word that means melancholy, longing for something. You keep it in the confines of a pop song. You reach for eternity. You go through something. It’s both heart-wrenching and uplifting at the same time. How is it done? I don’t know, but you do it, each and every time.”

Registered attendees of NAMM Believe in Music Week 2021 can watch the Boss Lifetime Achievement Award presentation to Johnny Marr on-demand through February 28 here (opens in new tab), or by heading to the Boss virtual booth accessible from the exhibitor directory at (opens in new tab).

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.