The red carpet at the Grammy Awards this year was a bit like a bad acid trip: 500 feet of crimson carpet, a group of scary-looking Sgt. Pepper’s dancers with freaky makeup, an Amy Winehouse lookalike working for the TV Guide Channel and bleachers packed with crazed fans singing every song by the artists that came their way. Rock Daily spied Yoko Ono going in for a photo op with Beyonce (but at the last second Solange jumped in to pose with her big sister instead), and Paramore singer Hayley Williams, who was the happiest girl on the carpet. “It’s an honor. I’m nervous. I’m worried I’m gonna trip because I don’t wear heels,” she said. Williams noted that she didn’t toss a few back to loosen up. “I don’t drink, but that’s okay. When we started touring, I wanted to be cool so I drank when we were overseas, but it doesn’t appeal to me.”
Maynard James Keenan of Tool was pretty damn sure that his band wouldn’t be coming home with the Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance. “Nope. Foo Fighters will get it,” he said. “I hear they are performing with an orchestra. That’s gonna be amazing. I came for the fiftieth [anniversary of the Grammys],” he added. “This is my first time here.”
The Plain White T’s worked the carpet with the Delilah, who’s an Olympic hopeful, and told us they’re recording their next album in April and shooting for a September 2008 release, while the extremely tall Mika revealed he’s somewhat inspired by prostitutes. â€œYou know a lot of my lyrics are twisted,” he insisted. “I have a song called “˜Lollipop” that four-year-olds sing, but the truth of the matter is it’s about a hooker. I would come across them at three o’clock in the morning coming out of the studio in Miami.”
Akon announced he was hoping for “a hotel room full of ’em” after the awards. Full of what, we naively asked. “Women!” he replied. The more wholesome Ne-Yo, who was up for five Grammys, wasn’t worried that having his mother as his date would put a damper on his post-show fun: “My mom parties harder than I do.” Ne-Yo said he’s working on new albums by John Legend, Ciara, Lindsay Lohan, Lionel Richie, Jennifer Hudson and possibly John Mayer, and plans to start on his third album soon. He promises that Legends album will be a “far throw from his last.”
Evanescence’s Amy Lee, who had champagne on the way over with bandmate Terry Balsamo, wasn’t disturbed by the fact that ex-bandmates were lurking in the crowd. “I haven’t seen anybody and everything has been cool and relaxed. We’re just happy to be here. We’ve been through a lot with everything in this album, so it’s an incredible album and a surprise.”
When the awards were finally underway, Nas strolled backstage into the press room and caused a stir by wearing a black T-shirt with silver lettering that read Nigger, which is of course the name of his next album. “This album [will hopefully] open some awareness in our community and everywhere. We felt like shaking it up with something real,” he explained. Nas acknowledged that the album title and his shirt (wife Kelis was wearing a matching black tank) will cause people to “go crazy about it. But it’s cool … It’s the perfect time for it. I’m thirty-four years old– a husband, a father, a brother, a son — and me and my wife have to go on trial for just hanging outside, just being us,” he added, referring to Kelis’ March 2007 arrest in Miami Beach for allegedly screaming racial obscenities at two cops. “So that is why I had to stick with the title. A lot of people experience racial shit and they want to sweep it until the rug. As much as I’d like for this word to go away, the reality of it is so strong.” Don’t expect to see the couple’s reality show air anytime soon. They nixed it after not being happy with the first episode. Nas said, “It was boring, so we said no.”
Meanwhile, Chaka Khan mused on Amy Winehouse, “Look, she is walking her walk. We all have a path and we hit hard times, and going through that chaos often leads to clarity. We have to be given the room and the space to be able to walk your walk, make your mistakes and come out of it and survive it and make you stronger. I’m a sum of all of those parts.” The legend wasn’t so charitable when discussing most new artists out today, though. “Some of them, I want to say, the Post Office is hiring!” she laughed.
Hopefully she wasn’t referring to T-Pain, who scored a trophy for his collaboration with Kanye West on Best Rap Song “Good Life” at the ceremony before the televised event. “I’m glad I don’t have to hold a Grammy this time. Six pounds! Diddy told me if I don’t have a piano, then I have no place to put it,” he said. “I’m celebrating [my win] tonight. I thought I wasn’t winning nothing, so I just canceled my red eye. Got that money back!”
Brad Paisley came into the press room at the worst possible time — during the highly anticipated Amy Winehouse performance, live from London. When a rep told him why we were all looking at the monitors and not him, he politely said, “Oh, I shouldn’t be up here right now. I”ll wait. Let’s wait.” He walked away, waited for Amy to finish, and came back to field questions.
After the show the real parties began (as always), and Rock Daily awaited entry to the Warner Music Group bash at cathedral-turned-venue Vibiana with none other than Winona Ryder, who sweetly stood among the masses until more people were let in. Cindy Crawford and husband Randy Gerber hung out with Kid Rock, and upstairs in the VIP area Kid Rock chatted up Natalie Cole with a cigar in one hand and a brown drink in the other.
Over at the Sony BMG party at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Aretha Franklin held court at a table with a white bag of fast food in front of her and politely shook hands with well-wishers, which included Clive Davis, Brandy and John Legend, and nodded along to the music. John Mayer posed for photos inside, as did a guy masquerading as Bono, who snapped a self-portrait with Nicole Richie and Joel Madden. We overheard Tony Bennett in his cabana outside, joking, “I know everyone here. I’ve been to every Grammys!” Chris Daughtry declined interviews and instead smooched with his wife, while Courtney Love showed up around 1 AM and schmoozed drink-less from what we saw. As it grew later, young Lil Mama worked the party like a pro, cozying up to Aretha Franklin and dancing her butt off with Chris Brown, while Rock Daily called it a night.