The Beatles received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Grammys at a Special Merit Awards ceremony yesterday. Ringo Starr, George Harrison‘s widow Olivia and Yoko Ono accepted the award on behalf of the group. Paul McCartney did not attend the ceremony, as he was rehearsing his band for their Grammy performance tonight, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The Isley Brothers, Kris Kristofferson, Kraftwerk, Zydeco artist Clifton Chenier, composer Amando Manzanero and violinist Maud Powell also received Lifetime Achievement Awards at the ceremony. Manzanero’s recognition marks the first time the Recording Academy honored a Mexican with the award.
“It’s a Lifetime Achievement Award, but I feel like we’ve all got a lot more life left in us,” Starr reportedly said. “It’s a great afternoon; it’s all about music. . . . The Beatles’ music is still out there and that’s what I’m most proud of.”
Starr reportedly mugged and pretended to look dismayed as Ono gave a lengthy speech. “I’m here today because I think John would have wanted me to be here,” she said. Starr produced a cell phone and pretended to make a call as she spoke and leaned forward to get her attention later. Starr who admitted he hadn’t prepared a speech said, “I really want to say thank you.”
Ronald Isley also spoke about the Beatles and specifically Paul McCartney “Me and Paul talk about that all the time,” Isley said, according to THR, recalling a moment after a concert. “And we talked about that all night, and he said, you know, if it wasn’t for our group, they would probably still be in Liverpool.”
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The Grammys will honor the Beatles with a two-hour special called The Night That Changed America on February 9th, 50 years to the day, date and time that the Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show. It will feature performances by the Eurythmics, John Mayer, Alicia Keys, John Legend and Maroon 5.