GRAMMY-winning songwriter/musician Lou Reed died Oct. 27. According to a Rolling Stone report, a cause of death has not been cited, though Reed underwent a liver transplant this past spring. He was 71. In the mid-'60s Reed co-founded the New York-based Velvet Underground, a group heralded for fusing elements of avant-garde and experimental rock with poetic lyrics. Their seminal debut album, 1967's Velvet Underground & Nico, was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame in 2008. As a solo artist, Reed's output was eclectic, spanning glam, rock and roll and alternative rock. Several of his solo albums cracked the Top 50 on the Billboard 200, including Transformer (1972), Sally Can't Dance (1974), Rock N Roll Animal (1974), Coney Island Baby (1976), and New York (1989). "Walk On The Wild Side," from Transformer, was Reed's highest charting hit, reaching No. 16 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 1998 Reed won his lone career GRAMMY for Best Long Form Music Video for American Masters — Lou Reed: Rock And Roll Heart, a documentary chronicling his career to that point, at the 41st GRAMMY Awards. Outside of music, Reed published multiple books of photographs, including 2003's Emotions In Action. More recently, he released an ambient album, 2007's Hudson River Wind Meditations, toured with the exploratory Metal Machine Trio and collaborated with fellow GRAMMY winners Metallica on 2011’s Lulu.
Continuing the tradition of preserving and celebrating timeless recordings, The Recording Academy has announced the newest additions to its legendary GRAMMY Hall Of Fame. With 27 new titles, the list currently totals 987 and is on display at the GRAMMY Museum in downtown Los Angeles.
"With recordings dating as early as 1909 through the late '80s, this year's GRAMMY Hall Of Fame entries not only represent a diverse collection of influential and historically significant recordings but also reflect the changing climate of music through the decades," said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy. "These memorable, inspiring and iconic recordings are proudly added to our growing catalog — knowing that they have become a part of our musical, social and cultural history."
Representing a great variety of tracks and albums, the 2015 GRAMMY Hall Of Fame inductees range from Autobahn by Kraftwerk to Lou Reed's controversial hit "Walk On The Wild Side." Also added to the highly regarded list are the 4 Seasons' "Big Girls Don't Cry," ABBA's "Dancing Queen," Neil Young's 1972 album Harvest, Chic's disco classic "Le Freak," the Sex Pistols' album Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols, and Alice Cooper's "School's Out." Other inductees include recordings by Harry Belafonte, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Otis Redding, and Hank Williams, among others.
Spotify Playlist: 2015 GRAMMY Hall Of Fame
This latest round of inducted recordings continues to highlight diversity and recording excellence, and acknowledges both singles and album recordings of all genres at least 25 years old that exhibit qualitative or historical significance. Recordings are reviewed annually by a special member committee comprised of eminent and knowledgeable professionals from all branches of the recording arts, with final approval by The Recording Academy's National Board of Trustees.
Additionally, The Recording Academy has continued its partnership with FX Group to publish a 120-page collector's edition book. GRAMMY Hall Of Fame 2015 Collector's Edition features in-depth insight into the 27 titles inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame class of 2015. The full-color book also highlights the work of the GRAMMY Foundation's GRAMMY Camp program and preservation and archiving initiatives, and offers a colorful look at other music halls of fame across the United States dedicated to preserving and honoring music's legacy. The book will be available online at the official GRAMMY store, at retailers such as Barnes & Noble, Target and Walmart, as well as on newsstands nationwide and at the GRAMMY Museum in downtown Los Angeles.
For more information on the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame, visit GRAMMY.org.
The 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards will take place on Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015, at Staples Center in Los Angeles and will be broadcast live in high-definition TV and 5.1 surround sound on CBS from 8–11:30 p.m. (ET/PT). For updates and breaking news, visit The Recording Academy's social networks on Twitter and Facebook.
Crimson and clover; leather and lace — pairings that weren't necessarily born to be together, yet form a perfect union that sticks. Pairings such as these are plentiful in music, as are pairings of unlikely artists coming together to create beautiful music.
For years the annual GRAMMY Awards telecast has been doing just this — pairing artists who don't usually perform together to create moments that are forever ingrained in music history. Examples include the crowd-stirring performance of "Stan" by Eminem and Elton John at the 43rd Annual GRAMMY Awards in 2001; and, more recently, the Beach Boys' medley of "Surfer Girl," "Wouldn't It Be Nice" and "Good Vibrations" featuring Foster The People and Maroon 5 at the 54th GRAMMYs in February.
But what happens when convention is thrown out the window in the recording studio? Sometimes, it's magic.
Take Raising Sand, the 2007 album by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss that spawned five awards at the 51st GRAMMY Awards, including Album Of The Year and Record Of The Year for "Please Read The Letter." The collaborative effort serves as just one example of what happens when risks are taken and the grand vision of a producer — in this case, GRAMMY winner T Bone Burnett — is put to the test.
Who could have thought of conjuring a musical marriage between the hard-rocking, mystical frontman of blues-rock legends Led Zeppelin and the fiddle-playing chanteuse most famous for her bluegrass with band Union Station? Plant and Krauss did after finding common ground during their first performance together at a Lead Belly tribute concert in 2004.
After handpicking Burnett to produce the album, mining the Americana songbook and taking it into the studio, the pair found out quickly that they may have been born to sing together.
"When we got 75 percent of the way down the line, I realized we'd created something that I could never have dreamt of," said Plant on the pair's Facebook page. Krauss shared that enthusiasm, saying the differences between the artists' backgrounds and career paths only served to enhance the collaboration.
"There's so much romance in contrast," she added. "It was a real life-changing experience."
These unexpected pairings often aren't just life-changing — they can be genre-defining.
Run-D.M.C. were a successful hip-hop group from Queens, N.Y., with a few minor hits before they decided to meld their style of rap with classic rock by dusting off Aerosmith's 1977 hit, "Walk This Way." The trio incorporated their own lyrics and style, and invited Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry to join the party on their 1986 breakthrough album, Raising Hell.
Not only did Run-D.M.C. score a No. 4 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 (and their first GRAMMY nomination for Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal for the album), but rap became a mainstream radio fixture and Aerosmith was jolted back into relevance, launching into arguably the most successful decade of their career.
More recently, metal maestros Metallica joined with art-rock pioneer Lou Reed for 2011's Lulu, which, according to comments by Reed on the project's website, was "the best thing I ever did, with the best guys I could possibly find on the planet. I wouldn't change a hair on its head."
The burgeoning electronica/dance music genre has also been gaining mainstream presence on the strength collaborations featuring DJs and artists, such as David Guetta's performance of "I Can Only Imagine" featuring Chris Brown and Lil Wayne at the 54th GRAMMYs as part of the telecast's first-ever dance segment. Foo Fighters also collaborated with Deadmau5 for the GRAMMY-nominated remix of the rock band's "Rope."
Other pairings that will likely be ingrained in musical minds for decades to come include David Bowie and Bing Crosby's 1977 Christmas TV special performances of "Little Drummer Boy" and "Peace On Earth"; Frank Sinatra and Bono's 1993 duet of "I've Got You Under My Skin"; and William Shatner's entertaining 2004 album Has Been, featuring songs with Ben Folds, Joe Jackson, Brad Paisley, and Henry Rollins.
Arguably one of the more unexpected collaborations came with Elton John and Leon Russell's 2010 effort, The Union. The album was a smashing success, garnering a GRAMMY nomination for Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals for "If It Wasn't For Bad" at the 53rd GRAMMYs, and earning the No. 3 spot on Rolling Stone's 30 Best Albums of 2010 list. The Union also marked the highest-charting release for both John and Russell since the '70s.
While John and Russell had been good friends and well-decorated contemporaries who respected each other's music, they hadn't spoken for 35 years until John picked up the phone one day and called Russell, one of his musical heroes. He had one goal in mind for the album.
"If Leon can get the accolades he deserves and be financially OK for the rest of his life, I will have done something decent with my music," John told The New York Times in October 2010. "His music takes me back to the most wonderful time in my life, and it makes me so angry that he's been forgotten."
But John's gesture and the ensuing work the two did on The Union, which was also produced by Burnett, did more than revive Russell's music career — it helped him recover from brain surgery and heart failure.
"Leon was in somewhat a delicate state," Burnett told The New York Times about the recording sessions. "But the longer we went, the stronger he got. I was watching the music fuel him."
And that's the power of a strong pairing, even if it comes out of nowhere.
(Matt Sycamore is a Pacific Northwest-based freelance music writer.)
On March 11, within hours of hearing about the tragic magnitude 9.0 earthquake and the subsequent devastating tsunami that decimated Tohoku, Japan, Costa Rican composer/singer/producer Jorge Castro knew he had to respond.
So he called 14 of his well-known friends — singers Michelle González and Marta Fonseca, Malpaís principal Fidel Gamboa, guitarist Federico Miranda, and Castro's drumming brother Andrés among them — and hurriedly finished a song he began in the wake of the destructive Sumatra tsunami in 2004.
Recorded under the collective Costa Rica For Japan, the resulting single, "Un Mar De Amor (A Sea Of Love)," has received widespread attention throughout Costa Rica, a nation with a population of 4.6 million, and blanket media coverage. It also yielded a video on YouTube.
"We needed something to put on the Internet so the Japanese know that on the other side of the world there are people that care," says Castro.
Castro hasn't been the only musician to spring into action for Japan. One of the first artists to help raise funds for the tragedy was Lady Gaga, who offered a "We Pray For Japan" charity bracelet via her website for $5, with all proceeds earmarked for Japanese quake relief.
While a recent lawsuit by a Michigan law firm claiming that she has profited from the project has attempted to muddy Lady Gaga's charitable efforts, it was reported the bracelet raised $1.5 million as of late March.
Lady Gaga's generosity hasn't ended there. She also contributed a Starsmith remix of "Born This Way" to the star-studded 38-song digital compilation, Songs For Japan, which contributed $5 million to the Japanese Red Cross Society. The compilation features songs by U2, Keith Urban, Cee Lo Green, Adele, and Nicki Minaj, among others.
The GRAMMY-winning artist also flew to the besieged country on June 25 and performed at MTV Video Music Aid Japan, a charity event broadcast to more than 30 million homes in Japan, South Korea and China that also featured homegrown artists MC AKB48, Girls' Generation, Namie Amuro, and Monkey Majik, among others.
"The recent events here really affected me, not just because I have so many fans in Japan, but because it's hard to watch a country struggle," Lady Gaga told Us Weekly. "But I can't let myself cry — I have to be strong because [everyone in Japan] has been so strong. No one gave up for a second."
Canadian rocker Avril Lavigne also rallied for the cause with her Abbey Dawn fashion line. The entire net proceeds of her "AD Loves Japan" oversized T-shirt are being donated to the Avril Lavigne Foundation to support Mercy Corps' Comfort for Kids program in Japan. Lavigne also donated net proceeds raised by her single "Keep Holding On" on Amazon.com to American Red Cross' Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami relief.
"I want the people of Japan to know that they have been in my thoughts since the devastating disasters," said Lavigne in a statement. "Japan and my fans there have been so important to me and so supportive throughout my career. I hope my fans around the world will join me by showing their support for our friends in Japan."
GRAMMY-winning rock band Linkin Park has initiated several fundraising efforts, including a pair of T-shirts designed by co-founder Mike Shinoda, and, in conjunction with lead vocalist Chester Bennington, a Signal Snowboard featuring Linkin Park vinyl as graphics was auctioned in May.
The band is also promising to perform a secret show in Los Angeles on Aug. 31 for the first 500 people who raise $500 or more, with all proceeds going to Save the Children's Japan Earthquake Tsunami Relief via Linkin Park's charitable organization Music for Relief.
In the UK, on April 3 Brixton Academy hosted a benefit for the British Red Cross Japan Tsunami Appeal. Featuring Liam Gallagher's new ensemble Beady Eye, the Coral, Graham Coxon, Paul Weller, Kelly Jones, Primal Scream, and Richard Ashcroft, the concert raised approximately $260,000 for the charity. Beady Eye also issued a cover version of the Beatles' "Across The Universe" as a limited-edition download to raise additional funds.
With artists ranging from Sonic Youth, Lou Reed and Yo La Tengo to John Zorn, Norah Jones and Yoko Ono pitching in with shows, music and merchandise, a diverse cast has united to show the positive healing power of music similar to relief efforts for such recent disasters as the Nashville flood in 2010 and Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast in 2005.
And even if money isn't involved, musical tributes such as "Un Mar De Amor (A Sea Of Love)" express a sentiment that will go a long way toward helping with the healing process.
"It's not necessarily about money," says Castro. "We did it out of love and support and solidarity. Music is a universal language."
(Nick Krewen is a Toronto-based journalist who has written for The Toronto Star, TV Guide, Billboard, Country Music and was a consultant for the National Film Board's music industry documentary Dream Machine.)
(The GRAMMY Insider keeps you up to date about news on your favorite GRAMMY winners, including new album releases, tour updates, notable TV appearances, interviews, and more.)
Fourth Of July Music
The "37th Annual Macy's 4th Of July Fireworks" spectacular will air from New York at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET and feature a fireworks show directed by Usher, and performances by Nick Cannon, Mariah Carey, Selena Gomez, Tim McGraw, and Taylor Swift. … Barry Manilow will take the stage during "A Capitol Fourth — America's Independence Day Celebration" from Washington, D.C., at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. on PBS. … For more Fourth of July music, check out our GRAMMY playlist.
Lists And Polls
She's been previously voted as one of the hottest female singers of all time, but who does Cher fancy? During a recent appearance on "Watch What Happens Live," the vivacious songstress engaged in a game of "Truth or Cher" with host Andy Cohen, during which she revealed that actor Tom Cruise ranks high on her favorite lovers list. "Well, he was in the top five," said Cher. "It's not a long list, it's a good list." … The fans have spoken and Taylor Swift ruled the 2013 edition of Billboard's Mid-Year Music Awards poll in three categories: First-Half MVP, Favorite Billboard 200 No. 1 Album for Red and the voter's favorite live show of 2013. Other GRAMMY winners who dominated poll categories included Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Pink, Fun.'s Nate Ruess, and Britney Spears.
The late Amy Winehouse is being commemorated with a new exhibit at the Jewish Museum in London. Created in collaboration with Winehouse's brother, Alex Winehouse, the exhibit features intimate items owned by the singer, including the actual list of songs on her "chill-out tape."
Nine Inch Nails are rivaling Kanye West for the most epilepsy-inducing music video with the release of the visual component to their new single "Came Back Haunted." Directed by filmmaker/musician David Lynch, the video features flashing images of human insects, strange faces and frontman Trent Reznor.
Kanye West took a walk on the wild side with his new album Yeezus, and it has garnered praise from none other than Lou Reed. In a review for TheTalkhouse.com, Reed wrote that the album is a mix of "supreme beauty … greatness … [and] the same old s***," and that West "really, really, really is talented." "No one's near doing what he's doing, it's not even on the same planet," he added.
News is out that the electric guitar with which Bob Dylan shook up the folk world will be auctioned later this year and is expected to bring in $500,000. The Fender Stratocaster that Dylan played at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965 is being auctioned by owner Dawn Peterson, who showcased the guitar on an episode of PBS' "History Detectives," where she got the estimate. After the PBS episode aired, Dylan reportedly claimed ownership, but a deal was worked out for Peterson to auction the guitar, preventing the whole thing from being tangled up in red (tape).
Pianist Keith Jarrett is among four artists named to the 2014 National Endowment for the Arts' Jazz Masters class. Jarrett's classic 1975 live album, The Köln Concert, was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame in 2011.
Does winning a GRAMMY make you rich? Not necessarily, according to recent GRAMMY winner Lzzy Hale of Halestorm. "It's all been great, but there's a lot of people who are like, 'Wow, they're rich,'" she told Pulse Of Radio. "No, no, the GRAMMY didn't come with a million dollars. We just got a statue."