meta-scriptRemembering Longtime GRAMMY Awards Director Walter C. Miller |
Walter C. Miller

Walter C. Miller at the 2010 Special Merit Awards


Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images



Remembering Longtime GRAMMY Awards Director Walter C. Miller

"Our thoughts are with the friends and family of Walter Miller during this difficult time. He was a powerhouse in the television business and helped to shape the GRAMMY Awards as we know it," Interim Recording Academy President/CEO Harvey Mason Jr. said

GRAMMYs/Nov 17, 2020 - 04:06 am

Today, we honor the life of Emmy-winning TV director/producer Walter C. Miller, who directed 15 GRAMMY Awards from 1984 to 2009. He also directed and/or produced many other awards shows—dating back to the '70s—including the CMA Awards, the Tonys, People's Choice Awards and the Latin GRAMMYs, as well as televised music and comedy specials for Johnny Cash, Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, Bob Hope and others. The beloved behind-the-scenes force died at 94 years old on Fri., Nov. 13, surrounded by his family.

"Our thoughts are with the friends and family of Walter Miller during this difficult time. He was a powerhouse in the television business and helped to shape the GRAMMY Awards as we know it. In 2010, we had the privilege of honoring Walter with the Trustees Award. He will be greatly missed," Chair and Interim Recording Academy President/CEO Harvey Mason Jr. said in a statement.

In addition to the Recording Academy's Trustees Award, Miller earned many accolades for his visionary work behind the scenes at televised awards shows, including the CMA President's Award in 2007 and the CMA Irving Waugh Award in 2009. He earned 19 Primetime Emmy nominations and won five of them, including four wins for his work with the Tony Awards. Additionally, he won three Directors Guild of America awards and, in 1993, won a CableACE Award for his work on the "Comic Relief" specials.

"Walter was clearly the most unforgettable character I've ever met in a working capacity, and one of my closest friends outside the business," Ken Ehrlich, the longtime GRAMMYs executive producer who received his own Trustees Award this year after his final show, told Variety. "He left an indelible mark on pretty much everyone he worked with, and as they say, they just don't make 'em like Walter anymore."

"In the award show/live event genre, there really aren't superstar director names like [Steven] Spielberg, [Quentin] Tarantino, [Francis Ford] Coppola or others. It just doesn't work like that, with the exception of my friend, Walter C. Miller," Ehrlich added in a heartfelt tribute to his friend and collaborator.

"He was not only one of a handful of directors—Dwight Hemion and Marty Pasetta also come to mind—who wrote the book about multi-camera coverage of live events, an art form and mathematical logistics nightmare all its own. He also became the first man in the chair to have spread those talents across both country and pop music, directing and ultimately producing both the CMA Awards and the GRAMMYs as well as the Tonys, the Emmys, Comic Relief and dozens of other live events whose degree of difficulty left numerous other directors sitting in puddles beneath their chairs."

"Walter was an absolute television legend," CMA Chief Executive Officer Sarah Trahern said in a statement. "When you worked with him, you instantly knew you were in the presence of greatness. He brought so much innovation and brilliance to the CMA Awards over the 40 years he worked with the organization."

"Walter Miller was my friend and mentor. Everything I know about producing great television I learned from Walter Miller. Walter had a long list of accomplishments and credits and working with the biggest names in entertainment," CMA Awards Executive Producer Robert Deaton added. "He loved our artists, and in return we counted Walter as one of our own. Today we say thank you. You will be missed and rest in peace dear friend."

The 63rd GRAMMYs: Looking Ahead To The 2021 GRAMMY Awards

In Memoriam 2024 GRAMMYs photo
Tribute to Tina Turner during the In Memoriam segment at the 2024 GRAMMYs.

Photo: JC Olivera/WireImage


2024 GRAMMYs In Memoriam: Stevie Wonder, Lenny Kravitz & More Pay Tribute To Late Icons

A star-studded tribute honored the late leading lights of the music industry. In a heartfelt and exciting segment, Tina Turner was remembered with a spirited cover of "Proud Mary" and while Stevie Wonder did a tender posthumous duet with Tony Bennett.

GRAMMYs/Feb 5, 2024 - 03:24 am

Oprah Winfrey, Stevie Wonder and more graced the GRAMMYs stage for a star-studded tribute to Tina Turner, Tony Bennett and other stars we lost in 2023. 

The In Memoriam segment of the 2024 GRAMMYs began with Wonder honoring the "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" crooner, who passed away in July after a long battle with Alzheimer's. With Wonder on piano and an ethereal, archival video of Bennett singing, the two created a tearjerker posthumous duet of "For Once in My Life" before transitioning into "The Best is Yet to Come."

Read More: Remembering Tony Bennett's Monumental Musical Legacy: "The Classiest Singer, Man, And Performer You Will Ever See

Next, a video memorialized Jimmy Buffett before a visibly emotional Annie Lennox appeared on stage with Wendy and Lisa to remember Sinead O'Connor with a tender cover of the late Irish alt pioneer's classic single "Nothing Compares 2 U." "Artists for ceasefire! Peace in the world!" the Eurythmics icon shouted with raised fist at the end of her performance.

Elsewhere during the In Memoriam package, Burt Bacharach was celebrated for his unmistakable impact on popular music throughout the 20th century. Then, Lenny Kravitz paid respect to Clarence Avant as the "Godfather of Black Music" with a tribute that included a performance of "Ain't No Sunshine" and "Lean on Me" by Jon Batiste. Ann Nesby, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis and others joined later to perform "Optimistic."

Read more: Remembering The Artistry Of Tina Turner, "The Epitome Of Power And Passion"

Last but certainly not least, Oprah Winfrey ushered in a tribute to Turner, saying "Tina Turner was always a towering figure. She is our forever goddess of rock and roll who inspired millions, a moving symbol of grace and grit, soul and power…And as those big wheels of time keep on turnin’, Tina’s voice continues to speak to all of us." 

Following her remarks lionizing the Queen of Rock 'n Roll and nine-time GRAMMY winner, Oprah ceded the stage to Fantasia Barrino for a transcendent, celebratory performance (with much dancing, as Turner would have wanted) of "Proud Mary" that went from the stage to the audience and back.

2024 GRAMMY Nominations: See The Full Winners & Nominees List

Kendrick Lamar GRAMMY Rewind Hero
Kendrick Lamar

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic


GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016

Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.

GRAMMYs/Oct 13, 2023 - 06:01 pm

Updated Friday Oct. 13, 2023 to include info about Kendrick Lamar's most recent GRAMMY wins, as of the 2023 GRAMMYs.

A GRAMMY veteran these days, Kendrick Lamar has won 17 GRAMMYs and has received 47 GRAMMY nominations overall. A sizable chunk of his trophies came from the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards in 2016, when he walked away with five — including his first-ever win in the Best Rap Album category.

This installment of GRAMMY Rewind turns back the clock to 2016, revisiting Lamar's acceptance speech upon winning Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. Though Lamar was alone on stage, he made it clear that he wouldn't be at the top of his game without the help of a broad support system. 

"First off, all glory to God, that's for sure," he said, kicking off a speech that went on to thank his parents, who he described as his "those who gave me the responsibility of knowing, of accepting the good with the bad."

Looking for more GRAMMYs news? The 2024 GRAMMY nominations are here!

He also extended his love and gratitude to his fiancée, Whitney Alford, and shouted out his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates. Lamar specifically praised Top Dawg's CEO, Anthony Tiffith, for finding and developing raw talent that might not otherwise get the chance to pursue their musical dreams.

"We'd never forget that: Taking these kids out of the projects, out of Compton, and putting them right here on this stage, to be the best that they can be," Lamar — a Compton native himself — continued, leading into an impassioned conclusion spotlighting some of the cornerstone rap albums that came before To Pimp a Butterfly.

"Hip-hop. Ice Cube. This is for hip-hop," he said. "This is for Snoop Dogg, Doggystyle. This is for Illmatic, this is for Nas. We will live forever. Believe that."

To Pimp a Butterfly singles "Alright" and "These Walls" earned Lamar three more GRAMMYs that night, the former winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and the latter taking Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (the song features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat). He also won Best Music Video for the remix of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood." 

Lamar has since won Best Rap Album two more times, taking home the golden gramophone in 2018 for his blockbuster LP DAMN., and in 2023 for his bold fifth album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.

Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes. 

10 Essential Facts To Know About GRAMMY-Winning Rapper J. Cole

Photo of Clarence Avant accepting the Industry Icons Award onstage during the Pre-GRAMMY Gala and GRAMMY Salute to Industry Icons Honoring Clarence Avant at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 9, 2019, in Beverly Hills, California
Clarence Avant accepts the Industry Icons Award onstage during the Pre-GRAMMY Gala and GRAMMY Salute to Industry Icons Honoring Clarence Avant at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 9, 2019, in Beverly Hills, California

Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images for The Recording Academy


Remembering Clarence Avant: The Black Godfather, Renowned Entertainment Mentor & Recording Academy Honoree

Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, L.A. Reid and Babyface, and Jimmy Iovine counted the entertainment pioneer as an essential piece of their success. The manager, label and broadcast media owner, and mentor died on Aug. 13 at age 92.

GRAMMYs/Aug 15, 2023 - 12:56 am

Known variously as the Black Godfather, the Godfather of Black Music and the Godfather of Black Entertainment, industry legend Clarence Avant was a pioneer over some seven decades in entertainment. The manager, label and broadcast media owner, and mentor died on Aug. 13 at age 92.

The breadth of Avant’s impact cannot be overstated. For his myriad accomplishments — many of which were historic and groundbreaking — he received the Recording Academy's Trustees Award in 2008. In 2019, Avant received the GRAMMY Salute To Industry Icons Award.

"Clarence Avant will forever be remembered as a trailblazer and changemaker whose commitment to music and the community paved the way for opportunity and greater inclusion within our industry," said Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason jr. "He fundamentally transformed the musical landscape for the better. The depth of Clarence’s legacy will last for generations."

A lengthy list of luminaries in the worlds of entertainment, music, politics and more paid tribute to Avant on social media.

Photo of (L-R) Jay-Z, Clarence Avant and Sean Combs attend 2020 Roc Nation THE BRUNCH on January 25, 2020, in Los Angeles, California

(L-R) Jay-Z, Clarence Avant and Sean Combs attend 2020 Roc Nation THE BRUNCH on January 25, 2020, in Los Angeles, California | Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Roc Nation

Bill Clinton tweeted, "It was impossible to spend time with Clarence Avant and not come away feeling more positive and wanting to follow his example."

The Rev. Al Sharpton called Avant "a revolutionary," adding that "When people in the entertainment world were delegated to a near master/slave relationship, he broke through that wall of exploitation and made us respected business people.

"This man was singularly responsible for helping so many Black artists get paid their worth," civil rights attorney Sherrilyn Ifill tweeted.

Magic Johnson tweeted, "He knew how to touch every individual he met and meet them where they were in order to get them where they needed to be."

Jay-Z’s Roc Nation reflected on Avant's legacy:

Born Feb. 25, 1931, in North Carolina, Avant began his career under the tutelage of Louis Armstrong manager Joe Glaser. He would soon branch out on his own to manage artists including Sarah Vaughan, Freddie Hubbard and pioneering Black record producer Tom Wilson. Avant opened a Los Angeles office in 1964.

In 1967, Avant helped negotiate what is said to be the first joint venture between a Black artist and a major label when he mediated a deal for Motown writer-producer William "Mickey" Stevenson with MGM for the soul subsidiary Venture Records.

In 1969, Avant founded his own label, Sussex. The label’s first release was Cold Fact, the unsuccessful debut from the late Sixto Rodriguez, who would years later become the subject of the Oscar-winning doc Searching for Sugar Man. While it took 50 years for Rodriguez to get his due, such was not the case for other Sussex releases such as Dennis Coffey’s smash funky instrumental "Scorpio" and certainly not for Bill Withers, who from 1971 to 1972 had three singles go platinum or gold.

During this time, Avant also bought what became one of the first Black-owned U.S. radio stations, Los Angeles R&B outlet KTYM. Both this venture and Sussex would wind down by 1975, which led to Avant’s founding of Tabu Records.

It was at Tabu that Avant discovered the songwriting and production talents of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, who had both been members of the Prince-owned band the Time. Jam and Lewis would create one of the most gravity-defying sounds of the ’80s, and Avant would eventually introduce them to Janet Jackson.

That kind of behind-the-scenes dot-connecting was the norm for Avant. He was considered an important mentor by Jam and Lewis, L.A. Reid and Babyface, industry titans Sylvia Rhone, Jheryl Busby, Jon Platt and Jimmy Iovine, and many others — including football great Jim Brown, whom Avant reportedly convinced to take up acting.

He was a political activist, especially for Black causes, and was an unofficial advisor to Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Barack Obama.

He would also serve as Chairman of Motown Records and would become the first Black person to serve on the international management board for PolyGram. He was the subject of the 2019 documentary The Black Godfather.

In addition to his Recording Academy Trustees Award, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2021 and is due to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Oct. 7.

There was no blueprint for Avant’s storied career. "I kept hearing about this guy Clarence Avant, but no one seemed to know what his actual official title was," Jim Brown recalled.

"My whole career has been like this," Avant once told Variety. "People ask me, ‘how did you do all this?’ How the f— do I know? I just do things. I just like to take shots."

Mogul Moment: How Quincy Jones Became An Architect Of Black Music

Kacey Musgraves 2023 GRAMMYs
Kacey Musgraves paying tribute to Loretta Lynn during the 2023 GRAMMYs

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy


Watch The 2023 GRAMMYs Star-Studded Tribute To Lost Legends Loretta Lynn, Christine McVie & Takeoff | 2023 GRAMMYs

The moving GRAMMY Awards segment featured friends, family and bandmates honoring their departed loved ones in song — including tributes from Kacey Musgraves, Quavo, and Sheryl Crow, Mick Fleetwood, and Bonnie Raitt.

GRAMMYs/Feb 6, 2023 - 03:38 am

A moving 2023 GRAMMYs segment featured friends, family and bandmates honoring their departed loved ones in song — including tributes from Kacey Musgraves, Quavo, and Sheryl Crow, Mick Fleetwood, and Bonnie Raitt.

The GRAMMY Awards' annual tribute to music industry icons who passed in the preceding year is always a bittersweet highlight of the ceremony — and this year's moving edition was certainly no exception.

In addition to honoring the many artists, producers, executives, and more who we lost, three legendary musicians received individual recognition from their close friends, collaborators, and loved ones.

A longtime admirer of Loretta Lynn, Kacey Musgraves became friends with the late country legend after opening for Lynn's 2012 tour — and thus was the perfect person to honor the four-time GRAMMY-winner.

Surrounded by a spray of red flowers and wearing a red dress that would've suited the Songwriter Hall of Fame honoree, Musgraves delivered a sterling rendition of Lynn's autobiographical "Coal Miner's Daughter."

With each strum of her guitar — with Lynn’s name inlaid on the neck in enamel — Musgraves brought more of her hero's trademark warmth and country legacy into fuller bloom, the names and images of other lost legends materializing behind her.

The rap world was stunned when it lost Migos member Takeoff in a tragic shooting in November, and his uncle and bandmate Quavo paid tribute with the elegiac "Without You." The rapper's soulful delivery was rounded out by the rich harmonies of gospel group Maverick City Music, the pain evident in his face as he sat next to an empty stool, his nephew’s chain hanging from a tragically unused mic stand.

As the song concluded, Quavo rose, holding that chain up to the heavens, his hope to see Takeoff again ringing out.

While clips of heroes like Jeff Beck and David Crosby surely brought tears to many an eye, the heartfelt tributes were rounded out by the trio of Sheryl Crow, Bonnie Raitt, and Fleetwood Mac's Mick Fleetwood. Together, they honored Christine McVie with a poignant rendition of Fleetwood Mac's "Songbird."

While Fleetwood stood with a resonant hand drum, Crow took to the piano with Raitt seated at her side. "And the songbirds are singing/ Like they know the score," they sang: "And I love you, I love you, I love you/ Like never before."

The crystalline performance immaculately suited the songwriter's immense spirit and unparalleled writing, with Fleetwood’s somber hand drum lending a beautiful final note.

Check out the complete list of winners and nominees at the 2023 GRAMMYs.

Head to all year long to watch all the GRAMMY performances, acceptance speeches, the GRAMMY Live From The Red Carpet livestream special, the full Premiere Ceremony livestream, and even more exclusive, never-before-seen content from the 2023 GRAMMYs.