[Related: Strangest Grammy Nominations of All Time]
February 2002: Michael Jackson came close to agreeing to perform on the show for the first time since his show-stopping performance of "The Way You Make Me Feel" and "Man In The Mirror" in 1988. The only problem: He wanted to get some kind of honorary award in return. The Recording Academy refused to play that game. The performance didn't happen. P.S. In January 2010, seven months after he died, Jackson got his award from the Grammys—a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Feb. 25, 1998: Barbra Streisand and Celine Dion were set to perform their nominated duet "Tell Him" at Radio City Music Hall. Two days before the show, Streisand got sick and couldn't make rehearsals. The day before the show, with Streisand no better, the producers asked Dion to instead sing her then-current smash "My Heart Will Go On." The morning of the show, Streisand was feeling better and said she would be able to do it after all. Dion, a trouper, agreed to switch back to "Tell Him." Then Streisand learned that her hair and make-up people, believing it was off, had already flown back to L.A. Streisand cancelled. Dion sang "My Heart Will Go On." Would the duet have made anyone forget the legendary 1963 TV clip of Judy Garland and Streisand? Probably not. But it might well have made a nice bookend to that sequence.
Feb. 26, 1997: Host Ellen DeGeneres was set to open the show with a piece of special material dubbed "Ellen's Grammy Song." The Grammys' TV committee and the head of the Academy disliked the piece. Just two hours before airtime, the show's producer and director were sent to inform DeGeneres that the number was being dropped. (That's very late to make such a major change—especially one that might throw your host off her game.) DeGeneres' people replied that, in that case, she wouldn't do the show. The Academy backed down. DeGeneres did the number. She did the show. And she left immediately after the show and never again agreed to host the Grammys.
Feb. 28, 1984: Donna Summer was set to open the show with her great hit "She Works Hard For The Money." But her limo stalled blocks away from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Summer, dressed in the pink waitress outfit she would wear during the number, hopped out of the limo and sprinted to the Shrine on foot. (I guess you could say she worked hard for the money.)
Here's one more, pertaining to the Latin Grammy Awards.
Sept. 11, 2001. The Second Annual Latin Grammy Awards were set to air live from the Shrine Auditorium. Needless to say, the show was cancelled.
I drew many of the anecdotes in this report and my previous one from Ehrlich's 2007 book, "At The Grammys! Behind The Scenes At Music's Biggest Night."
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- Arts & Entertainment Events
- Barbra Streisand
- Ken Ehrlich
- Celine Dion
- Bruce Springsteen