Electronic music pioneer receives Outstanding Alumni Award

Audio technology leader returns to campus where he first developed equipment for his impoverished band

Mark Crabtree OBE and Head of School Tony Brown
Mark Crabtree OBE receiving his award from Head of School, Professor Tony Brown

Mark Crabtree is the founder and managing director of AMS Neve, a leading manufacturer of audio technology equipment. Its mixing desks and audio processors are considered the best in the world, used and owned by many global artists such as The Police, Nirvana, Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Sam Smith and Pharrell Williams.

As a masters student in digital electronics at Manchester in 1974, Mark’s two main interests were electronics, which he’d been passionate about since a small boy, and music.

The band he played in couldn’t afford proper equipment, so Mark used his knowledge of electronics to build his own amplifiers, recorders and sound effects equipment. Often ground-breaking, Mark’s equipment came to the attention of artists including Paul McCartney, ELO and 10cc, and was soon in demand by major music studios. On the back of these successes, he left his job at Lucas Aerospace in Burnley and set up his own company AMS (Advanced Music Systems) in 1976.

Since then, AMS Neve has become one of the dominant names in professional music production, including films and TV. Indeed, Mark and his company have won two Oscars, a Grammy and an Emmy for their contribution to film, music and TV.

The company continues to design and manufacture all its equipment in Burnley. Mark is heavily involved in supporting the local community as chair of Burnley Bondholders, a group set-up to encourage business and enterprise in Burnley. He is also involved in outreach work designed to raise the aspirations of local school pupils. He has funded engineering teaching for 30 primary schools in the town and has recruited science, technology, engineering and mathematics ambassadors for each.

Mark received an OBE for services to advanced manufacturing and creative industries in 2014.

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