Backstage at the 51st Grammys

Walk down memory lane at awards show

After their big win for album of the year, Robert Plant, Alison Krauss and T Bone Burnett shared thoughts on the alchemy behind “Raising Sand.”

“Ostensibly we come from such different places on the musical map,” Plant said. “The British approach when I was a kid was to try to be American. Alison shows me an America I wasn’t exposed to.”

Krauss said “I’m still amazed I do this for a living.”

And Burnett said, “It was a folk record. It won a pop prize and a country prize. It’s not in any bag or any box.”

Burnett confirmed that there would be a followup to “Raising Sand” and that the song selection process is already much more democratic than the first go-round.

Plant said he most treasured the contemporary folk/Americana award the most. “We get to be a part of a movement that is healthy.”

* * *

Two hours and 40 minutes before the telecast was to begin Al Green was in the shower when he got the call to come rehearse a performance for the show.

Green threw his clothes in a bag and got down to Staples Center for a rehearsal with Justin Timberlake, Boyz II Men and Keith Urban. They were substituting for Rihanna, whose absence was believed related to an argument with boyfriend Chris Brown, another no-show scheduled to perform.

“I thrive on that energy,” Green said backstage less than an hour after performing “Let’s Stay Together.” “There’s not time to make it (too grandiose).”

As for the song choice, “Let’s Stay Together,” he said, “always finds a way to get back in your life — ‘whether times are good or bad’.”

* * *

Paul McCartney had no update on when the Beatles music would be available on iTunes and no thoughts about what he may perform when he plays the opening night of the Coachella Music Festival in mid-April. He was in a rather jovial mood, wearing a Beatles Comic Relief T-shirt designed by his daughter Stella.

“I really didn’t come here to win. I came here to be in it. I was watching the Golden Globes and saw Mickey (Rourke) win, and there’s Brad and the other actors in the audience. It’s the Grammys. It’s L.A. It’s exciting.”

His Fireman project with producer Youth, he said, “is quite a new direction for me. Collaborations are a great thing. I don’t always do them, but since the Beatles broke up, I found you have to trust (your partner). I totally trust (Youth). I just do something and trust him to make sense of it.”

* * *

The late George Carlin’s daughter Kelly thanked the Academy for its support over the years, noting she would take better care of the Grammy than her father did. “In a chemical-induced state, my father took apart the Grammy he won in 1972. He misplaced some of the pieces and couldn’t put it back together. The Academy sent him a new one.”

* * *

When Peter Bogdanovich needed to make decisions about performances in “Running Down a Dream,” he would ask Tom Petty. “He always knew the best ones,” the director said. One example: For “American Girl,” Petty suggested using the video from the TV show “Fridays.” Bogdanovich said it was so good the entire performance was used in the film.

* * *

Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead won the world music award for his Global Drum project that “makes percussion music a legitimate” art form. As for the reunion of the Dead for a tour this summer, he said it all owes to President Obama. They gathered to perform at a fund-raiser in Pennsylvania “and it felt good. We missed each other and realized there’s not another feeling” like the Dead when it is together.

* * *

Dweezil Zappa worked hard not to let the tear ducts open after winning the rock instrumental award for the Zappa Plays Zappa recording of “Peaches en Regalia.” “It’s a song that’s 40 years old,” he said, looking skyward as he acknowledged his late father, Frank. “It was on a record dedicated to me when I was born. This is me returning the favor, dedicating the performance back to him.”

* * *

Last year’s album winner Herbie Hancock performed last week with the Grammy Jazz Ensemble of high school musicians at a program saluting Blue Note Records’ 70th anniversary. Backstage he spoke about the importance of Miles Davis on his life. “He taught me to be non-judgmental about music, to listen to the other musicians and not be afraid to try new things. I felt I needed to support those musicians, do what I could do to help unite and challenge them so they could experience a small part of what I experienced with Miles.”

* * *, who will make his acting debut in “Wolverine,” is finishing the next Black Eyed Peas album, titled “The End,” that will be released in June. “We attempted to reinvent the Black Eyed Peas. It’s high energy as always – songs for the clubs, boom boom and beats.”

* * *

Carrie Underwood, who plans to soon start on a new album, talked about the increase in country acts on the telecast. “Two years ago we were doing tributes to Bob Wills and the Eagles. This year it’s just flooded with country artists. Its huge testament to country music. I would never take a break from country music.”

More Grammy coverage:

Main story.
See part one of the winners list.
See part two of the list.
See part three of the list.
See arrival photos.
See photos from the show.
Telecast review.

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