50th Anniversary Grammy Awards

Some highlights from the Grammys
February 11, 2008 9:43:28 AM PST
In a year when so many of popular music's headlines revolved around the personal-life meltdowns of some of its biggest young stars, the Grammy Awards relied on the likes of the Fab Four, Tina Turner and Jerry Lee Lewis to gin up musical gravitas on its 50th anniversary. As could be expected, Amy Winehouse stole the show via satellite with a sassy, two-song medley from London that included a wink-wink performance of "Rehab." She also took the most trophies - five in all - but came up one short of a sweep when, in a last-minute stunner, jazz veteran Herbie Hancock's "River: The Joni Letters" won album of the year.

Still, the show's half-century milestone set the tone for the night, with Alicia Keys, Rihanna and Beyonce among the slate of young stars who performed with veteran musical heroes.

Beyonce sang shout-outs to Donna Summer, Lena Horne, Diana Ross and Anita Baker before joining an age-defying Turner, who brought the audience to its feet during a medley of the 68-year-old's own hits, including "What's Love Got to Do With It?"

To open the show, Keys sang a surreal duet in synch with black-and-white footage of a young Frank Sinatra.

Cirque du Soleil acrobats brought a slice of their Las Vegas show, "Love," set to the Beatles "A Day in the Life," followed by singers from the film "Across the Universe" giving a haunting rendition of "Let It Be."

Cher injected some humor into the veteran-worship: "As many of you know, I first started singing when Lincoln was president."

The tributes, and chilling performances by Kanye West and Fergie, seemed to nudge the spotlight back - even if only a little - from the festival of speculation in the run-up to the show over the fate of Winehouse, West's gambit for Grammy respect or even a rumored appearance by Michael Jackson.

In the end, Winehouse - whose struggles with substance abuse have become nearly as ubiquitous as her massive hit "Rehab" - lived up to the pre-show hype with her retro-soul infused medley that also included "You Know I'm No Good."

The tattooed songstress, whose recently bleach-blond hair was once again black and piled high - reflecting her "Back to Black" album title - drew a standing ovation and cheers of "Amy! Amy!" from the London audience. She took best new artist and female pop vocal performance; "Rehab" was named song and record of the year; and "Back to Black" won pop vocal album.

West picked up four trophies, including a nod for best rap solo performance for "Stronger."

But veterans also grabbed a share of the Grammy gold.

Bruce Springsteen took home three, including a best rock song Grammy for "Radio Nowhere." Hancock scooped up two Grammys, including the biggie - album of the year - for "River: The Joni Letters."

"I know in the past there's been several jazz musicians that unquestionably deserved to receive album of the year, and certainly to be nominated for album of the year, and it didn't happen," Hancock said backstage. "That was then. This is now, this is a new day, and it's fresh."

Chaka Khan also picked up two trophies, including one for best R&B album for "Funk This."

"It's nice to be in the mix," Khan said backstage. "I feel blessed to still be uttered on people's lips."

A compilation of Beatles songs titled "Love" even won the trophy for best soundtrack.

On a night where so much of the onstage action was devoted to recognizing established acts, Khan had a message for some of today's younger performers: You gotta learn your history.

"I think a lot of that is missing from the kids today," Khan said, adding Winehouse is a notable exception. "I would love to educate some kids where music started, whether they're doing funk, soul or rock."