On Saturday, Feb. 11, there were two events related to Grammy Week, though it wasn't until the second one until people started hearing about the death of Whitney Houston, an artist who has produced many unforgettable "Grammy moments" over the years.
On a happier note, the first event took place under a warm Los Angeles sky at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre on West 8th Street. It was the Recording Academy's Special Merit Awards Ceremony, where technical merit awards, trustee awards, and Lifetime Achievement Awards were handed out.
Awards were given to the Allman Brothers Band, Diana Ross, Glen Campbell, George Jones, the family of the late Gil Scott-Heron, Wayne Jackson of the Memphis Horns, the family of an ailing Dave Bartholemew, and the family of the lateAntonio Carlos Jobim family, among others.
The red carpet situation was much less intense and frenzied than the previous night's crucible, so I was able to have brief conversations with many of the Allman Brothers (Butch Trucks, Derek Trucks, Chuck Leavell, Jaimoe, Greg Allman and Warren Haynes), Wayne Jackson, George Jones, Glen Campbell, and the family of the late Dave Bartholemew (who was responsible for the New Orleans big-brass sound of early radio pioneers such as Fats Domino).
"This is the pinnacle," said Allman of the Southern rock group's award. He was asked by another reporter if awards are important. "Of course they are," he quickly replied. "They're a symbol of hard work."
Haynes, who joined the Allman Brothers in 1989, said he was still considered the "new guy" since he had only been with the Allman Brothers since then. He is up for a solo award this yearn and said winning that award along with the Lifetime Achievement Award would be "overwhelming." He added that he was a fan of the group when they first started, and it was the dream of a lifetime to be asked to join the band.
George Jones looked great, and said so: "I'm feeling great. I'm a little tired — it's a long way from Florida. I'm thrilled to be here." He said his favorite country artists of the modern age are Kenny Chesney and Dierks Bentley.
The ceremony itself was often moving, including when Wayne Jackson stepped onstage to accept his award. He spoke emotionally of his late partner in the Memphis Horns — his "best friend" — and talked about his lifetime in a "dance of love."
Ten separate Grammys went to members of the Allman Brothers, who all ave speeches, with some (Butch Trucks) longer than others (Gregg Allman), although all were obviously flattered to be recognized. Jaimoe, the group's black member, said he followed the advice of an elder when he was first asked to be a member of the band: "If you want to make some money, go play with the white boys."
After all of those Grammys went out, Neil Portnow, president of the Recording Academy, joked that since they had to give so many Grammys to the Allman Brothers, the Recording Academy had unwittingly run out of Grammys to hand out at Sunday's telecast. He then added another joke. "To follow that, we have an symphony orchestra [to award]."
Diana Ross skipped the print side of the red carpet but gave a gracious speech accepting her award, despite fears that he might take a pot shot at the Recording Academy because this was to be her first Grammy EVER, shockingly. She did say that her children, who went up on stage with her, was her true "lifetime achievement."
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