Aerosmith & H.E.R. perform at POTY
Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
H.E.R., Alice Cooper, Gary Clark Jr., Yola & More Rock Out With Aerosmith At MusiCares 2020 Person Of The Year
"The Dionysian spirit of rock is alive tonight!" actor/comedian Russell Brand announced from the stage of the glitzed-up, guitar-filled Los Angeles Convention Center last night. In true rock fashion he, as the evening's host, wore a black silk kimono and kept his voice loud and presence commanding. The order of the night was honoring four-time GRAMMY-winning rock and roll icons Aerosmith as MusiCares 2020 Person Of The Year, for both their indelible contributions to music and culture, but also in their activism—as artists in recovery and with efforts like Janie's Fund.
The exclusive gala, being held in the band's honor for this 30th-anniversary event, helped raise a lot of money for the philanthropic work of MusiCares and was filled with killer renditions of Aerosmith's endless classics by Alice Cooper, Gary Clark Jr., Yola, Melissa Etheridge, H.E.R., John Legend, Cheap Trick, the Jonas Brothers, Kesha and more. After the stellar concert, which was interspersed with footage of Aerosmith over the years and past POTY performances, the whole band was presented with their awards. Finally, the very special honorees were ready to "let the music do the talking," as Steven Tyler put it, with an epic four-song performance featuring some special guests.
While the rockin' essence of the band was felt in every powerhouse performance, everyone, especially Brand (his excitement over Tyler's signature scarf-tied mic stand was real and relatable), the anticipation for Aerosmith's set was felt by all. Read—and dream—on to find out exactly who played what. Our behind-the-scenes videos above (inside the event) and below (on the red carpet) may also get you "Cryin'."
Also, on hand for the occasion were Recording Academy Chair Emeritus Christine Albert and Vice Chair Tammy Hurt spoke to the heart of MusiCares.
In total, there were 13 performances leading up to the very special headline moment. To kick things off, fellow classic rockers Cheap Trick performed "Rats In The Cellar," from 1976's Rocks. The black-and-white suit-wearing Jonas Brothers followed up with a performance of the GRAMMY-winning classic "Crazy." After that came current GRAMMY nominees Emily King and Luis Fonsi, who gave a powerful duet of "Angel."
For the fourth number, GRAMMY-nominated country queen Ashley McBryde rocked a killer take of "Dude (Looks Like A Lady)" wearing a scarf-fringed leather jacket as a nod to Tyler. Before, on the red carpet, McBryde revealed she'd "been nervous all week…knowing it's for them." On stage, she oozed rock star confidence.
Fifth up was Gavin DeGraw, who started out singing 1989's "What It Takes" at the piano, but revved it up at the end as he strutted his way off the stage, offering high fives as he made his way through the audience. In a perfectly executed surprise collab moment, DeGraw found his way to Tyler's table, who offered an epic dose of "YEAHS!" to the song.
Kesha followed up that powerful performance with one of her own, singing "Janie's Got A Gun" accompanied by a string section from a second stage in the middle of the room. The 1989 song was the band's first to earn them a GRAMMY win and, as it discussed abuse, was their first socially charged anthem. Wearing a fierce black patent leather trench coat and dark locks, Kesha's power rippled through the room.
Next, first-time GRAMMY nominee Yola, accompanied by fellow 2020 nominee Gary Clark Jr. on epic electric guitar duties, belted a rendition of "Cryin'" that almost had Tyler in tears. His look of joy and amazement during the performance was definitely reflected in the rest of the audience. For the eighth act, LeeAnn Rimes, like Yola, brought gorgeously sequined, powerhouse female energy to Aerosmith's music, in the form of "Livin' On The Edge."
Always a treat to witness live, soulful GRAMMY winner John Legend held the audience captive as he sang "I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing" at the piano. "It's a lot of pressure going after John Legend, seriously," Jessie J laughed, midway through her gorgeous rendition of "Home Tonight." She slayed her performance, though, and turned heads in a liquid-silver starlet dress. Following the two power-ballads, GRAMMY winner Melissa Etheridge and past nominee Nuno Bettencourt brought the rock meter back up high with "Walk This Way."
The 12th act was led by Sammy Hagar with Orianthi on guitar, who performed 1976's "Back In The Saddle." Last but not least of the epic performances were Foo Fighters, who rocked us hard with two songs, "Let The Music Do The Talking" and "Toys In The Attic," complete with Dave Grohl offering some epic screeches. "I don't know how Steven screams like that for more than one song," Grohl mused.
After a kind word from entertainment lawyer Dina LaPolt (who is Tyler's longtime attorney and helped pass the Music Modernization Act), the men of the hour finally took the stage to accept their awards. After brief thank yous and big smiles, it was finally time for Aerosmith to sing their music. They opened with "Big Ten Inch Record," their cover of Bull Moose Jackson from Toys In The Attic. In epic rock star fashion, Tyler asked for a piano and, in a few seconds, out came a grand piano as the band began to play those emotive chords of "Dream On." Shortly after the piano appeared, 2019 GRAMMY-winning guitar hero H.E.R. emerged for a truly epic duet with Tyler.
While that would've been an amazing place to end, the rock gods had a few more surprises left in store for the lucky audience. Tyler requested the audience—everyone had been seated at assigned tables—to move to the front. As the crowd got up close, he took off his long white jacket and let his dance moves free for "Sweet Emotion." For the very final song of the evening, "Same Old Song And Dance," the band was joined by fellow longtime rock icon Alice Cooper along with Hollywood Vampires bandmate Johnny Depp.
Don't forget to tune into the very big finale of the 2020 GRAMMY Week—the 62nd GRAMMY Awards tomorrow, Sun. Jan. 26 at 5 p.m. PT/ 8 p.m. ET on CBS. Stay backstage with us here at GRAMMY.com, where you can learn more about all the winners, watch acceptance speeches and select performances and tune into the Red Carpet and Premiere Ceremony live streams prior to the show.