Two days before he took home three Grammys, including Producer of the Year, Mark Ronson nailed what makes the awards show so boring. “They don’t serve booze in the Staples Center,” he explained from a couch in L.A.’s Roosevelt Hotel, sipping vodka. “At those awards things in Europe, they encourage you to get tanked.” Exactly! But at least the stars have those Grammy parties to get lubed up. Ronson threw a bash of his own, featuring hot protégés like Washington, D.C., rapper Wale and Brooklyn’s Santogold. While Ronson shook up the world last year with his throwback Motown sound, 2008 will see him parlay his love for the Band and Traffic, beginning with an album by Australian soul singer Daniel Merriweather. He also told us he was taking a page from Justin Timberlake‘s book: being a nice boy and taking his mom to the Grammys. “I could get caught in a hotel room with Gary Coleman, four hookers and an ounce of blow,” he said, “but since I brought my mom . . . ” Touché!
The following night, Ronson recovered from his hangover to swipe Slash’s empty pack of Gitanes cigarettes at Clive Davis’ ridiculous throwdown at the Beverly Hilton. Foo Fighters kicked off that jam with a version of “The Pretender” that rattled the silverware, and we were stoked to see our old pal Rod Stewart. “I want to make a blues record,” he whispered to us. “You know, Muddy Waters, the old stuff, and I want to be backed by the Black Keys. What do you think about that?” Hell, yeah! “Do you think they know who I am?” Rod asked, so we checked with Keys drummer Patrick Carney. “We just Googled him, so now we do,” Carney told us. “We’re interested as long as we don’t have to wear suits.” Done!
Finally, the Grammys rolled around. Aside from Kanye hooking up with Daft Punk for “Stronger” and his sweet nod to his late ma, it was just as dull inside the Staples Center as it appeared on television. And we always love to hear Aretha Franklin, whose hand we got to shake at Sony BMG’s after-party at the Beverly Hills Hotel. There we toasted the Foos, saw Beyoncé‘s bootyliciousness peeking out of her golden dress and ran into Chris Brown, who joked that his backpack was “full of drugs.” (Upon examination, we learned that it was actually a change of clothes, in case he danced and got sweaty.) After we slugged our fourth shot of Patrón with Danny Carey and Maynard James Keenan, they told us that their band, Tool, is working on a new album. By that point we were so tanked that if the Grammys had started then, the show would’ve been amazing.
This story is from the March 6th, 2008 issue of Rolling Stone.