Backstage at the Grammys: Paul McCartney, Adele, Robert Plant Open Up on Rock's Big Night

February 9, 2009 1:21 AM ET

While Chris Martin was kissing up to Paul McCartney and Kanye West was showing off his mullet onstage at tonight's Grammy Awards, Rolling Stone was hanging out backstage and in the press room at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, where newcomers like Miley Cyrus, Adele and Carrie Underwood rubbed shoulders with legends like Paul McCartney, B.B. King and the Grateful Dead's Mickey Hart (check out photos of the behind-the-scenes action in our Grammy backstage gallery). It was the kind of environment that made stars want to open up, and Cyrus happily confessed her crush on Kings of Leon's bassist Jared Followill. "He's pretty good looking," she said. "I'm not usually one to freak, but me and Taylor [Swift] last night were like, 'Holy smoke!' " Don't expect the two teen pop stars to hook up with the Kings anytime soon, though: "Katy Perry was like, 'They have super hot girlfriends.' I was like, 'Dang it!' "

A more jovial Paul McCartney joked with reporters about the Beatles' relatively modest Grammy haul. "I'm very annoyed," he said. "I didn't come here to win it. I've come to be in it!" Later on, RS caught up with another jokester — Adele — after she came offstage with her Best New Artist win. "I was ecstatic and really shocked," she said. "It's surreal. I got a little emotional." The British neo-soul singer admitted to getting teary onstage, but says she fought the emotions by admitting to her crush on the Jonas Brothers, who she beat in the category. "I just tried to keep it together and make a joke," she said. As for her afterparty plans, Adele said she was going to take it easy. "I've stopped drinking so I'm just hanging out with my friends tonight," she said. Her reason for hopping on the wagon? "For mental reasons, so I do my work and don't forget to wake up in the morning."

Ben Gibbard — whose band Death Cab for Cutie was nominated for Best Rock Song ("I Will Possess Your Heart") and Best Alternative Album (Narrow Stairs) — didn't think his group stood a shot for winning, but he was happy to be there nonetheless. "I don't feel like we should be in the category with these amazing bands who I respect," he said, referring to fellow nominees like Beck, Gnarls Barkley, My Morning Jacket and Radiohead in the category of Best Alternative Album. "So it's nice to be mentioned in the same breath." The Dead's Mickey Hart shared a similar sentiment: "It's not about the Grammys. It's about feeling good about yourself and making music with other people. It's not a horse race," he said after winning Best Contemporary World Music Album for his Global Drum Project. And Robert Plant told the gathered reporters, "This is the most remarkable liaison I've been involved in. I couldn't believe what we'd done."

Earlier in the press room, Will.i.am was in a cheerful mood and jested about the area's overabundance of PCs instead of Macs, quipping, "That's not cool, folks!" But other stars were more sober: Carrie Underwood said she was stoked to watch Jennifer Hudson sing on the backstage monitors. "She's handled the media attention with such grace and it was amazing to see her get onstage and see that healing process," she said of Hudson, who has recently stepped back into the spotlight following the murders of her mother, brother and nephew.

And B.B. King — who would go on to score his 15th win for "One Kind Favor" in the category of "Best Tradtional Blues Album" — took a serious moment to reflect on the state of the country. "I believe the blues, the way things are today, is more important now than it ever was," he said. "Unless you got a lot of money. I don't."

Check out Rolling Stone's Grammy hub for all the latest reports and photos from music's biggest night.

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