Home Music Music Lists

Behind the Grammys: How the Staples Center Turns Into Music’s Big Night

From Katy Perry’s sparkly mic to AC/DC’s massive drum set, a peek behind the curtain

BTS Grammys

On a day of rehearsals, placards take the place of the actual guests.

Theonepointeight

Last night as the 2015 Grammy broadcast stretched across three and a half hours, TV viewers saw massive performances from Kanye West, RihannaSia and Pharrell (among others: the show featured 23 sets). The folks lucky enough to be seated in the Staples Center caught even more of the action, but Rolling Stone got the ultimate view of the Grammys — backstage, before the big show even began, our cameras captured just what it takes to bring together Music's Biggest Night, from John Legend's rehearsals to Madonna's drum set-up. Photos by Theonepointeight.

BTS Grammys

Theonepointeight

Headshots

Before the official Grammy ceremony takes place, seating arrangements are prepared by placing name cards on the main seats, specifying where artists will be located during the show. This process also helps the camera crew plan where and who to focus on during cut-aways and winner announcements.

BTS Grammys

Theonepointeight

First Take

Beck's drum set sits in the backstage area, ready to be wheeled in by the time rehearsals come around. Rehearsals begin a few days before the official live show, with each of the performing artists scheduled one after another, broken up into different time slots and days. A full dress rehearsal with every performing artist involved begins early Sunday morning of Grammy Day, so nearly the entire show is staged from beginning to end before the live show takes place.

BTS Grammys

Theonepointeight

Mic Check

Days before the show, the sound crew begins the process of separating microphones for each artist and his or her respective performance. Overall, there were 23 performances in this year's Grammys. That's 23 different set-ups in a three-hour broadcast.

katy perry microphone

Firework

Each microphone is fitted to each of the artist's unique preference, which means every single microphone has its own unique sound and flair. This is the microphone specifically used by Katy Perry during rehearsals and her official performance.

Grammys

Theonepointeight

Tunnel of Love

The backstage area includes a fully-fitted audio production office (seen on the left) where audio technicians monitor every sound heard during the broadcast to deliver the cleanest audio possible to audiences worldwide.

BTS Grammys

Theonepointeight

To the Wire

In the backstage area, the sound production team feeds and monitors audio between different channels, constantly keeping track of every sound heard during the live taping. Because the show highlights music and audio production at its highest level, it includes the top people in the audio field. In fact, the majority of these people happen to work similar large scale productions like the Oscars and the Tony
Awards.

eric church

Outsider

Eric Church runs through "Give Me Back My Hometown," the lead single off his latest LP. Church's tourmates, Dwight Yoakam and Brandy Clark, also performed at the show.

BTS Grammys

Theonepointeight

The Pursuit of Happiness

A sound technician sets up one of the drum sets Pharrell will use during his performance of "Happy." Each instrument is carefully tailored to each of the artist's specific instructions. By the time the artists jump onstage for rehearsals, the instruments are prepared for not only performance but also for audio monitoring.

grammy orchestra

In Tune

Members of the orchestra performing with Common and John Legend chat while tuning their instruments. At this point, it's not so much about practicing as it is about perfecting what's already in place.

common and john legend

Ready to Go

Common and John Legend end their rehearsal rendition of "Glory" with a handshake and candid smiles, knowing that this will be a memorable performance during the live show.

BTS Grammys

Theonepointeight

Confessions Behind the Dance Floor

During the rehearsal period, instruments are carefully separated and labeled, making it easier for the production team to transport them in and out of the stage area. Here we see a label attached to the drum set used for Madonna's performance.

BTS Grammys

Theonepointeight

It Takes a Village

The backstage area, sometimes referred as the "Sound Village," is entirely filled with the best audio gear in the world. It includes a seemingly endless amount of digital hardware and analog technology. In the background, we see AC/DC's drum set transported across one of the most important parts of the backstage area: a ramp where the production crew continuously moves things like instruments and stage decorations.

Show Comments