A peak into the music industry's best parties

HOLLYWOOD — The Ray Charles celebration continued deep into the wee hours Monday at Spago as a band assembled by pianist Herman Jackson and featuring Billy Preston worked through Brother Ray’s greatest hits.

Highlight of the Concord Records party came with the arrival on the bandstand of Stevie Wonder, who spoke about attending a Charles concert as an 11-year-old.

Wonder performed “Hallelujah I Love Her So” in tribute to that concert at a Michigan fairgrounds, following it up at the grand piano with a stirring version of “Drown in My Own Tears.”

On hand to celebrate were several of Charles’ Grammy-winning associates John Burk, Phil Ramone and Al Schmitt, Glen Barros, and musicians Stanley Clarke, George Duke and Maurice White.

Across town, Warner Music greeted guests at the Pacific Design Center with the eerie sounds of the band String Theory.

Using the rooftop for dancing and cigar smoking, the conglom feted Grammy winners Green Day and Tim McGraw, and Industry Icon honoree Ahmet Ertegun, founder of Atlantic Records.

Also on hand were WMG execs Edgar Bronfman Jr., Lyor Cohen and Tom Whalley; and musicians Jimmy Page and Faith Hill.

The William Morris Agency threw a 1,300-guest fete at the Avalon that kicked off with a perf by comic rapper Har Mar Superstar, who appears to combine elements of Vanilla Ice and Tiny Tim.

This segued into a set by contemporary country rockers Big & Rich, who asked the crowd, “Are you ready to get your redneck thing on?” — the crowd seemed befuddled by what this required of them — before launching into “Why Does Everybody Want to Kick My Ass?,” — which the aud understood.

Headlining the WMA event was Billy Idol, whose “White Wedding” was played at jackhammer/ambulance siren decibel levels usually reserved for outdoor venues.

Standing in the Avalon’s balcony was WMA’s Norman Brokaw, who said he’d begun representing vaudeville acts in the early ’40s, and as the music played made the wry comment that “the sound was not like it is today.”

Among those at the shindig, which went until 2 a.m., were guests including members of the Killers, Maroon 5 and the Roots.

Although the EMI party commenced at 9 p.m., guests Norah Jones, Janet Jackson and Ben Harper didn’t show at the BevHills Hotel soiree until well past 11.

Jones, who arrived with entourage in tow, just wanted to relax, according to her publicist, in one of the plethora of cabanas surrounding the pool area, where Lisa Marie Presley also held court all night.

Although EMI garnered 33 awards, Capitol Records honcho Andy Slater refused to comment on the evening, only giving a nod when asked if he enjoyed the kudofest.

Dave Navarro and wife Carmen Elektra and members of Jane’s Addiction were some of the first to arrive. Not having watched the show, Navarro still had thoughts on the night’s big winner, Ray Charles.

“I am a fan of the man more than the music,” Navarro said. “I like what he stands for and what he accomplished in his lifetime.”

Another Charles admirer, Joss Stone, who had just seen “Ray” two days prior, was impressed with the Alicia Keys and Jamie Foxx duet of “Georgia.” “Jamie Foxx can sing,” said Stone. “I love a real singer.”

Over at the Sony BMG party at the Roosevelt Hotel, VIPs including John Mayer and Ricky Martin partied in a restricted lounge that eventually got so packed even winner Etta James was denied access.

Fete’s guest list also included Sony’s Howard Stringer and Andy Lack; BMG’s Clive Davis; and musicians including Diana DeGarmo and members of Franz Ferdinand and Evanescence .

(Bill Higgins contributed to this report.)

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