The pre-Grammy parties kicked off Friday with the MusiCares Person of the Year event. And leave it to Paul McCartney to upstage his own tribute, breaking tradition for a MusiCares honoree by opening the show with a rousing rendition of "Magical Mystery Tour," a fitting intro to the McCartney songbook that would assume new definition with every artist who appeared onstage. Coldplay performed "We Can Work It Out" as if it were a plea for world peace; Katy Perry tapped...
From playing bass in his Long Island high school garage band, The Savages, to leading the annual Grammy Awards ceremony as President/CEO of The Recording Academy, Neil Portnow has dedicated his career to music, musicians and education.
Portnow graduated George Washington University in 1971 and got his start as a record producer and music supervisor, later joining RCA Records as staff producer. Stints as VP A&R at Arista and EMI America led to Jive Records, where he spent a decade-plus running their West Coast operation, rising to VP and guiding the Zomba Label Group’s roster, which included some of pop music’s most successful acts ever, among them: Britney Spears and NSYNC.
In Nov. 2002, Portnow became President of the then-National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), replacing the contentious Michael Greene, and proceeded to kick the much-criticized Grammy Awards ceremony into the 21st century by changing the voting process to en sure the results didn’t cause embarrassment (like Jethro Tull winning the first heavy metal award). Portnow has put his stamp on the institution, continuing to support the organization’s MusiCares foundation and opening the Grammy Museum in downtown Los Angeles in 2008, followed by additions in Cleveland, Mississippi, Nashville and the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
Portnow will help the Grammys celebrate its 60th anniversary with next February’s edition, at New York’s Madison Square Garden, where it hasn’t been held since 2003, with all voting now taking place online for the first time.