Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney and The Animals' Eric Burdon paid tribute to Pete Townshend when the rocker picked up the prestigious Les Paul Award at the 28th annual Technical Excellence & Creativity Awards in California on Friday (25Jan13).

The guitar great asked old friend, producer and music historian Martin Lewis to lead the tributes and he, in turn, brought in the big guns as Townshend prepared for a five-week North American tour with Roger Daltrey and The Who.

MCCartney offered a heartfelt video message, during which he said, "We go back and I have so many great memories of you and the band, your music, seeing you on Tv... seeing you live... You're just great.

"I've never had a chance to stand opposite you and tell you. I'd probably be too embarrassed... You are just a great monster, man."

And Jagger offered up a letter, which was read out by Lewis.

The Rolling Stones star stated: "I would like to say that I can't think of anyone better to receive this wonderful award than Pete Townshend. Pete has been an innovative guitarist and songwriter for as long as I can remember, which is indeed, a very, very long time.

"Congratulations Pete on this honour, Long may you play the Les Paul."

Slash, John Sebastian of the Lovin' Spoonful were at the TEC Awards to personally salute the Brit, but it was Burdon who provided the highlight of the night when he stepped up onstage to surprise Townshend by fronting a performance of The Who's The Seeker.

Los Angeles-based singer Julia Fordham also thrilled Townshend at the ceremony when she performed two songs from the rocker's 1971 Lifehouse project, which was originally conceived as the follow-up to The Who's Tommy - but subsequently abandoned and not released until 1999.

Burdon and Fordham then closed the event by teaming up for a rendition of the guest of honour's 1980 solo hit Let My Love Open The Door. Townshend was so impressed, he left his table and joined the musicians onstage.