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15 Great Grammy Tribute Performances

From Springsteen singing Strummer to Bruno Mars honoring Bob Marley, revisit classic performances from past ceremonies

Best Grammy Tributes; Springsteen; Costello

Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Costello perform "London Calling" in tribute to the late Joe Strummer.

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While celebrating current pop achievements is a huge part of the Grammy mission, the ceremonies themselves always devote plenty of time to honoring past glories. Even by Grammys standards, the 2016 show will be unusually tribute-heavy, with various artists memorializing the many icons we’ve lost during the past year. Lady Gaga will pay tribute to David Bowie with a medley of the Starman’s songs in a segment directed by Nile Rodgers; late Motörhead leader Lemmy Kilmister will get a suitably loud sendoff from the Hollywood Vampires; Gary Clark Jr. will lead a bluesy farewell to B.B. King; and the surviving Eagles will team with Jackson Browne for what’s sure to be a stirring Glenn Frey homage. 

In anticipation of these performances, we look back at some of the most memorable Grammy tributes from years past.

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Tribute to Bob Marley (2013)

With Bruno Mars, Sting, Rihanna, Ziggy Marley and Damian Marley

The Bob Marley tribute at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards started out conspicuously, well, Marley-less, with pop-soul revivalist Bruno Mars offering up an energetic performance of his Police-sounding hit, “Locked Out of Heaven.” Halfway through, Mars was joined by the head Police man himself, Sting, who then took over the reins for a run-through of his own “Walking on the Moon” — which at least sounds like a reggae song. Things finally got appropriately Marley-fied for the grand finale, with Bob’s sons Ziggy and Damian, along with island girl Rihanna, joining the crew for a euphoric “Could You Be Loved,” the entire stage bathed in red, green and yellow lights.

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Tribute to Phil Everly (2014)

With Billie Joe Armstrong and Miranda Lambert

The Everly Brothers’ close vocal harmonies were a crucial ingredient in early rock and roll. Their angelic blend influenced everyone from the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and Simon & Garfunkel, all the way through Billie Joe Armstrong. The Green Day front man recorded a cover album, Foreverly, with Norah Jones just prior to Phil Everly’s death on January 3rd, 2014. At the 56th Grammys a month later, he performed an intimate acoustic duet alongside country star Miranda Lambert. Although the two were an unlikely pairing, their voices weaved together flawlessly on the Everlys’ 1960 tune “When Will I Be Loved.”

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