Chris Martin & Susanna Hoffs
Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS/Getty Images
From Foo Fighters To H.E.R., Chris Martin To Mavis Staples, Here's Who Rocked The GRAMMY Prince Tribute
"To me, Prince is music. To love Prince is to love music," "Let's Go Crazy: The GRAMMY Tribute To Prince" host Maya Rudolph said as the GRAMMY special aired on Tuesday, April 21. "He said so much, so well, for so long, and then was gone too soon."
On the fourth anniversary of the seven-time GRAMMY winner and cultural icon's death, the Recording Academy and some very special celebrity friends celebrated his life and musical treasure trove. The shimmering Prince tribute concert, "Let's Go Crazy: The GRAMMY Salute To Prince," featured powerhouse numbers from Foo Fighters, Beck, Common, Earth, Wind & Fire, H.E.R., Mavis Staples, St. Vincent, John Legend, Miguel, Coldplay's Chris Martin, the Bangles' Susanna Hoffs and many more. The latter pair sang a stripped-down piano rendition of "Manic Monday," the Bangles' hit penned by Prince, while Dave Grohl led the Foo Fighters in a rocked-up covers of "Pop Life" and "Darling Nikki," the latter complete with growls and shrieks.
Mavis Staples and The Revolution perform at "Let's Go Crazy: The GRAMMY Salute To Prince" | Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS/Getty Images
Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis and Sheila E. served as musical directors for the show, and all performed during it. Jam and Lewis, who got their start as part of Prince-formed act the Time, brought the moves with that classic group, while Sheila served up her epic drumming during the majority of numbers, as the bandleader of the powerhouse backing band. Prince's very own GRAMMY-winning backing band The Revolution also served up major purple realness during the show, performing "Delirious" with Rudolph and her duo Princess, "Purple Rain" with Staples and a joyful, star-studded finale of "Baby I'm a Star."
In case you missed its airing on CBS/CBS All Access, or in case you couldn't Shazam some of the deeper cuts quickly enough, let's take a trip back to a time filled with "Purple Rain," before the coronavirus crisis stopped us all in our tracks (the show was safely and miraculously taped before the pandemic rocked the States).
Opening the festivities were fellow GRAMMY winners and guitarists Gary Clark Jr. and H.E.R., who performed the night's titular bop, "Let's Go Crazy." The "Hard Place" singer rocked a fabulously shiny, iridescent white jumpsuit with a color-coordinating electric guitar, while the "This Land" artist stylishly contrasted her in a matte black suit and brown woodgrain guitar.
"He set the stage for all of us who follow," said EGOT-winner Legend, who wore a fierce, fitted dark grey suit. He sang a rousing rendition of "Nothing Compares 2 U," Prince's GRAMMY-nominated song originally performed by Sinead O'Connor.
GRAMMY-winning polymath St. Vincent followed, donning a lavender ruffled bodysuit and white go-go boots. Before she calmly slayed "Controversy," she told a story of Prince attending one of her shows, which "scared her to death." "Prince's music means so much to all of us," she added.
GRAMMY and Latin GRAMMY winner Juanes, wearing a maroon crushed velvet top, rocked out with a lively rendition of "1999." The Colombian rock star was introduced by the Purple One's longtime friend, Naomi Campbell. He was followed by another song from H.E.R., this time with dancer and Prince collaborator, Misty Copeland. Her gorgeous dance moves brought a powerful energy to H.E.R.'s electric performance of "The Beautiful Ones." Sitting at a space-age white Roland piano, H.E.R. hit alll the high notes with a commanding, graceful power.
Next on deck during the show was another act featuring beautifully articulated choreography, this time by FKA Twigs and Usher, from their slick 2020 GRAMMY performance (watch above) of "Little Red Corvette," When Doves Cry" and "Kiss." Martin and Hoffs brought us back down to earth with lovely duet of "Manic Monday," with Martin playing the piano.
The Time perform at "Let's Go Crazy: The GRAMMY Tribute To Prince" | Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS/Getty Images
Not wanting to keep the audience in their seats too long, Morris Day, Jam, Lewis and The Time brought the energy back up with a medley of some of The Time's biggest bops written by Prince: "Jungle Love," "Cool" and "The Bird." They all still dance like it's 1984 and Ice Cream Castle just hit the airwaves—apparently an active diet of Prince music keeps you young and fresh.
Dave Grohl, meanwhile, shared a story (watch the clip above) about the time he jammed with Prince in an empty L.A. Forum. He also spoke about how Foo Fighters used to perform "Darling Nikki" in their early days. Their hard-rocking slayage of the sexually explicit Purple Rain track was the first time they'd played it in over 20 years. Host Rudolph then kicked it over to the legendary GRAMMY winning-soul group Earth, Wind & Fire for a rolicking cover of Sign 'O the Times cut "Adore."
GRAMMY-winning rapper/actor/activist Common followed with a modern update on the 1987 album's socially charged title track, "Sign O' The Times."
Next, GRAMMY-winning alt-rock stalwart Beck sang ubiquitous Prince catalog classic, "Raspberry Beret," complete with the music video's cartoon clouds dancing in the background.
Clark Jr. returned to the stage for a special duet with Sheila E., of another Sign 'O the Times deep cut, "The Cross."
Comedian/actor/musician Fred Armisen then took the stage to introduce the evening's true star, Sheila E., who'd already changed into another bold ook. She then led a medley of "America," "Free" and "The Glamorous Life," tracks she recorded with the icon himself.
Armisen returned to introduce one his "best friends," Maya Rudolph, who'd also changed into another look for her performance with her Prince cover band, Princess, who slayed "Delirious" with The Revolution, Prince's powerhouse backing band.
The Revolution stuck around to rock out with the one and only Staples for a incredibly moving rendition of "Purple Rain." Finally, they lead a packed stage for a very star-studded, lively take of "Baby I'm a Star," bringing out all the amazing performers who channeled Prince's royal energy during the show.