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Backstage at the Grammys

Producer of the year winner David Foster attributed the success of Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You”– record of the year winner — on the acapella opening of the song. “Kevin Costner wanted her to sing the song for the cameras without any music. I told him that was a terrible idea. But as soon as I heard her sing it (that way) I knew it was magic. He was right and I was wrong.”

Multiple winner (pop vocal, record and album of the year) Whitney Houston, on hearing that host Garry Shandling said her shimmering white dress was tighter than a speed skater’s bodysuit: “How would he know?” Not the only one to push the verbal envelope, Houston admitted she was “nervous as hell” performing the opening number for the Grammys. “I get nervous. I do, believe me. Whitney gets nervous.”

Tony Bennett, looking as bronzed as the Grammy he grasped, said he loved his new appeal to younger auds. “Young people are really with it,” he said. “They’re completely different from what is written about them, that they’re complete airheads or whatever.” But he has no patience for the rap movement. “I’m just waiting for that second note. It’s all one-note,” he said. Bennett also paid homage to Barbra Streisand, after beating her out for the Grammy for traditional pop performance, saying he’d love to duet with the Yenta someday.

Sting said his tours typically go where “most rock acts don’t want to,” adding that he recently returned from Jakarta, Indonesia. Sting, admittedly pleased that he won the pop vocal category Grammy, took the losses in the bigger awards in stride. “I’m glad I got it, but it won’t have any real effect on how I play my music. I’ve never been lacking in confidence, I’ve always been arrogant, ” he joked when asked if the win would boost his ego.

Alan Menken and Tim Rice — whose “Aladdin” music and song “A Whole New World (Aladdin’s Theme)” picked up five awards — gave the politically correct response when asked which award was more fun to win: the Grammy or the Oscar. “How can we answer that here?” intoned the crisp, British Rice. “I can think of something that’s more fun than both.”

Best reason for wearing a tribal witch doctor mask goes to Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, who donned said mask at start of band’s live perf of “Livin’ on the Edge.” Backstage, Tyler quipped, “I met a witch doctor. He said ‘Wear this and you’ll win a Grammy.’ ” True enough, the band copped an award for rock performance.

Natalie Cole, who said she was interested in more than one type of music, said her next album would “mix it up. The next one is for me, not for you guys, but for me.” Cole performed a jazz-based set, showcasing her talents beyond the ballads that she is known for.

Look out Hollywood! Aretha Franklin said she wants to get into “movies and telefilms.” Franklin said she has a whole group of writers who are working to come up with projects for the queen of soul.

Cheryl Davis, daughter of jazz legend Miles, said “it is great” that Wesley Snipes has been cast as in a biopic as her father. She said Walter Yetnikoff, former CBS Records head, was producing the project, and that a script was in the works.

Grammy Host Committee chairman Jonathan Tisch, chairman of Lowe’s Corp, said his group has already begun lobbying for the 1995 ceremonies. “We’ve proved that we are the best place for these ceremonies. New York City does events better than any other city. We are open for business for any awards shows that want to come here.” Tisch noted that the room tax in the city will be dropping, to attract more business to the city. The NARAS Board of Governors will decide in May where next year’s ceremony will be held.

Traditional blues Grammy winner B. King reiterated his desire to go back to prison. Asked about his serf last year for a captive Biker’s Island crowd, King said he’d done 49 prisons and likes playing behind bars. “I’d love to go back to them,” he said.

Bruce Hornsby slammed NBC for making him change the title of the instrumental set that went on to become the Grammy-winning for pop instrumental, “Barcelona Mona.” Hornsby said NBC thought the title of the music, which was written for their coverage of the 1992 Summer Olympics, would be insulting to the Spanish hosts. So the web changed it to “29-5,” a reference to the world record long jump length. Hornsby said that title lasted until he got into the studio to record. “Now I get to call the shots, so I called it ‘Barcelona Mona.’ So I’m sure they’re appalled.”

Best reggae outfit went to Lancelot Hall, decked in shaman hat and vest. The dredlocked Hall, of Inner Circle, which won for best reggae album, said he didn’t mind his reggae tunes being used for the real-life show “Cops” considering current problem of police brutality against blacks. “After meeting certain cops, we realized these guys were just human beings,” he said.

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