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Music crowd riffs at fete

Influential music honorees look back, and laugh

Jokes are to be expected from Randy Newman, whose trademark in song has been a biting wit, but when Lionel Richie, Dick Clark and film composer James Newton Howard have an audience in stitches, one has to wonder what got into the water at the Beverly Hills Hotel last week.

Newman, Richie and longtime music exec Clarence Avant were honored Thursday by the Los Angeles chapter of the Recording Academy for their community work. Before receiving the Governors Award, each was treated to a career retrospective in video. It was Clark, though, who jokingly became annoyed that the material in his speech was covered in the program and video. Clark also noted of Richie, “I miss the afro.”

Avant joked, “The last time I was in this room was two and a half years ago for my daughter’s wedding. I’m still getting the bills, so I’m happy to get this free lunch.”

Newman was self-deprecating as usual, noting his signing to Nonesuch Records has meant he’s been taking lute lessons and will be recording an album of Welsh songs.

Among those laughing along were NARAS prexy Neil Portnow, Mo Ostin, Lamont Dozier, Dave Koz, Lalo Schifrin and academy chapter president Jonathan McHugh.

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