Backstage At The Grammy Awards!
FEBRUARY 17th, 2016
Hello, and welcome to the first installment of SOUND & VISION, a title I lifted from a song by the late, great David Bowie. We will be exploring both contemporary and past musical legends and CD releases, and look at some of the cooler home video releases coming your way. This is a special edition featuring my coverage of the 58th Annual Grammy Awards held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. As I have often said in my previous coverage, The Grammys are more of a variety special than an awards show. The winning is almost secondary, the reason people watch the show is to see musical match ups and to be “shocked and awed.”
Unlike other awards shows that shall remain nameless, this year’s roster of nominees, presenters and performers is incredibly culturally and racially diverse.
Although plenty of new artists and songs were featured during the 3 1/2 hour broadcast, the show was particularly heavy with past music because of the several tribute segments. To some it may have indicated the old music is the best music; but in retrospect, I believe it proves that music has simply evolved. There is plenty of incredible new music right now (Chris Stapleton, Alabama Shakes, The Weeknd-, Bruno Mars, and of course, Adele) and much of it can credit the great songs of the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s for inspiration. True music fans take it all in- and learn to choose the best, and spit out the rest.
Among the highlights for me were the a cappella version “That’s The Way Of The World” by Stevie Wonder and Pentatonix , The Eagles with Jackson Browne, who I predict will join the band replacing Frey; and Lady Gaga and Nile Rodgers in a tribute to musical genius of David Bowie. Visually it was a little corny and not unlike a Vegas tribute to dead celebrities, but musically it was solid.
Photo:©2016 Pilato Entertainment. All Rights Reserved
Most people don’t realize The Grammys are a week of events held in Los Angeles every year by The Recording Academy. These are some of the more notable events I was able to attend:
THE ENTERTAINMENT LAW INITATIVE: Where they showcase legal solutions by aspiring law students to current music industry problems. Among the guest speakers was Clive Davis and one of the topics discussed was the impact of the lawsuit won by The Estate of Marvin Gaye over Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams and the song “Blurred Lines.”
THE PRODUCERS AND ENGINEERS WING of the Recording Academy honored one of its own: producer extraordinaire Rick Rubin. Rubin has produced everyone from Black Sabbath, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Slayer to Josh Grobin, Johnny Cash and Lana Del Ray. Many of his clients were there to support him at this event.
THE MUSICARES PERSON OF THE YEAR dinner and concert honored Lionel Richie on Saturday night and raised over $7 million dollars to help musicians who have struggled with health, addiction and financial issues. Everyone from Lenny Kravitz, Dave Grohl, Stevie Wonder, Florence Welch (of Florence & The Machine), John Legend, and many others came to honor Richie in song and spoken tributes. I interviewed Stevie Wonder at this event asking him if he ever imagined when he was doing 3 minute pop songs in the
1960s like “Uptight” and “Signed Sealed Delivered,” that eventually he would make such landmark albums as Innervisions and Songs In The Key Of Life? Stevie Wonder: “ I put my faith in God and so as I was able to grow so were the things in my heart and mind and spirit and so, I was just very honored to have received it from Him…”
THE CLIVE DAVIS PRE-GRAMMY GALA honoring Irv Azoff. Unquestionably the hottest Grammy week ticket- the Clive Davis bash, held at The Beverly Hilton. Among the guests were Ringo Starr, Joe Walsh, Michael Keaton, Nancy Pelosi, Barry Gordy, Sir Richard Branson, KISS, Ellie Goulding, Iggy Azalea, John Legend, The surviving members of Nirvana who played a tribute to Bowie with BECK, Barry Manilow, Jane and Peter Fonda, and performers Melissa Etheridge, Chicago and Earth Wind and Fire, all of whom ripped it up on stage. Too many A-listers to mention. It was a memorable night for all who were there.
I interviewed Stephen Stills and asked him what it was like to record with Jimi Hendrix on his first solo album, which included “Old Times, Good Times,” featuring a blistering Hendrix solo. Stephen was frank in his answer saying the sessions left him somewhat disappointed: “ It was a long time ago. We had a lot of fun but we didn’t get much done. I had tape going all the time. But then it was one entourage after another coming in, and we didn’t get much done. Then Buddy Miles showed up and we just kept jamming. In the end, I got one song out of it, but boy did we have a lot fun.”
The record industry may be in trouble, but not the music industry. The shift has moved to live performances as the key revenue generator, but in the end, it is still about the music and the records. The Grammys and other showcase events like it prove that there are still a lot great artists and music around and still to come. So keep the music flowing, and rock on.
Until next time!