Music World Celebrates Ahead Of Its Big Event

From parties to rehearsals to gift suites, Grammy-related activities were taking over L.A.’s weekend scene in advance of Sunday night’s awards show at Staples Center. Here’s a tour around town:

POLISHING THE PITCH: It was back-to-back star power at Friday’s Grammy rehearsals. Dave Matthews, Maxwell, Green Day, Black Eyed Peas, Taylor Swift, Sheryl Crow, Stevie Nicks, Mary J. Blige, Andrea Bocelli, Drake, Eminem and Lil Wayne were all scheduled to run through their numbers for Sunday night’s awards ceremony.

But it wasn’t all song and dance at the Staples Center sessions. Sandwiched in between the musical acts in the lineup was Recording Academy President and CEO Neil Portnow, who was to polishing his own pitch – his usual institutional remarks to the Sunday night Grammy audience.

More than 30 artists are set to perform on the three and a half-hour televised ceremony, with only nine of the Grammys’ 109 categories to be presented on the CBS show.

BIRTHDAY BASH: Grammy nominee Anthony Hamilton was in celebration mode even before Sunday’s show – he turned 39 this week. And to celebrate, Nike’s Jordan Brand threw the R&B crooner a party at the swank restaurant Phillipe in Beverly Hills, with a guest list that included Common, actress Victoria Rowell, DJ Beverly Bond and MC Lyte.

Hamilton joked with friends and happily posed with some of the gifts Jordan got him, including high-tech headphones.

Hamilton is nominated for three Grammys, including best R&B album for The Point of it All.

SUITE OF SWAG: Leery of looking gauche, some celebrities shy away from having their photo taken when they hit up gifts suites and get free swag.

All-American Rejects singer Tyson Ritter is not among them.

He happily posed for photos Thursday as he visited the Grammy’s official gift suite for talent, put on by Distinctive Assets.

Photo: Scott Legato /
Z99.5 Jingle Jam, Murat Theater, Indianapolis, Ind.

“Who gives a (expletive)? You gotta give something back. Why would you just get something for free?” he said.

Ritter said the gift suites, where celebrities are showered with free goods ranging from beauty products to electronics, are the highlight of awards week.

“It’s the best part, because the people who are doing this … they’re like, here, take this free. I’m like, all right, we both know what we’re doing, we’re both whores. I love it.”

Also in the gift suite Thursday was George Clinton, sporting a multicolored hairstyle, and Grammy nominee Charlie Wilson. He was there with his wife, who shared her input on his choices.

“She gets a chance to tell me what not to get. ‘Don’t get that, that’s ugly. Get that purse, because I want it,’“ Wilson said, laughing.

PREPPING FOR A PRE-PARTY: Music mogul Clive Davis likes to wait until after the Grammy nominations are announced to decide on the talent for his exclusive pre-Grammy party – but he’s not always looking for the top nominees to fill the bill.

“I think about who was robbed?” he said on Thursday during preparations for Saturday’s annual event at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. “Who didn’t get Grammy nominations? Who should be part of the celebration of music of the year?”

There will likely be a mix of top talent at the gala – past performers include Whitney Houston, Kanye West, Annie Lennox, Kelly Clarkson, the Foo Fighters, Johnny Mathis and Aretha Franklin.

Davis usually keeps the list of performers close to the vest, but he did reveal one name – Harry Connick Jr., who was with him to talk about the party.

Connick, who worked with Davis on his recent album Your Songs, said he’s looking forward to the bash because he usually doesn’t mix with his fellow music colleagues.

“I don’t have a lot of close friendships in the industry because I don’t go out much,” said Connick, a Grammy nominee himself this year for his Your Songs album. “I don’t go to a lot of parties, I’m usually working.”

Click here for the Grammy Web site.