Mick Jagger will make his first appearance on the Grammy stage on Feb. 13 when he performs as part of the annual In Memoriam segment. Jagger agreed to do the show to honor one of his idols, R&B singer Solomon Burke, who died on Oct. 10. Jagger will perform with soul singer Raphael Saadiq and his band.
Jagger has appeared on the Grammys only once before, and that was via satellite from London, in 1986, when the Rolling Stones were presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Jagger's appearance this year may not mean as much in ratings pull as that of, say, Justin Bieber or Lady Gaga, but it's a coup in terms of the Grammys' credibility. To understand why, you need to know a little history. The Grammys were resolutely anti-rock in the '60s and '70s, when the Stones were at their peak. The Stones weren't even nominated for a Grammy until 1978, when Some Girls was a finalist for Album of the Year. The band didn't win a Grammy until 1994, when Voodoo Lounge was voted Best Rock Album and "Love Is Strong," a track from the album, took Best Music Video, Short Form.
That history may explain why the band declined to attend the Grammys to pick up its Lifetime Achievement Award. The Grammys had to come to them. The band also insisted that the Grammys air a lengthy segment of the video for their then-brand new single "Harlem Shuffle." And the band was irreverent in accepting the award (from presenter Eric Clapton). "I'd like to say thank you to all the people that have stuck by this band through thick and thin. And to all the people that took the piss, the joke's on you," Jagger said.
Since then, the Grammys have largely shed the anti-rock sensibility that long undermined their credibility. U2 has won twice for Album of the Year. Since 1990, Eric Clapton, Alanis Morissette, Bob Dylan and Santana have also taken the prize.
Burke, who was 70 when he died, was among the top R&B singers of the 1960s. His top hits include "Got To Get You Off My Mind," "If You Need Me," "Tonight's The Night" and "Cry To Me." Burke was voted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. He won his only Grammy in 2002, when Don't Give Up On Me was voted Best Contemporary Blues Album.
The Stones have recorded several of Burke's songs. The band included "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love" on The Rolling Stones, Now! in 1965. They featured "Cry To Me" on Out Of Our Heads later that same year.
Other artists who will be performing on the Grammys for the first time include Muse, who are the front-runners to win for Best Rock Album; Arcade Fire, who are the front-runners to win for Best Alternative Music Album; Miranda Lambert, who is in a tight race with Lady Antebellum for Best Country Album; and Janelle Monae, who is a tight race with Usher for Best Contemporary R&B Album. (Monae will be performing in a joint appearance with fellow first-timers B.o.B and Bruno Mars.)
Other performers on the show include Eminem, Lady Antebellum, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry, as well as these pairings: Drake and Rihanna; Justin Bieber and Usher with Jaden Smith; and Cee Lo Green with Gwyneth Paltrow and the Jim Henson Company Puppets.
Presenters (who presumably weren't offered coveted performance slots) include past Grammy queen Norah Jones, the red-hot Nicki Minaj, teen star Selena Gomez, rapper (and two-time host of the annual Grammy nominations special) LL Cool J, and country stars Blake Shelton and Dierks Bentley.
There is precedent in awards show lore for Jagger's long-awaited appearance on behalf of someone he admired. In 1974, Katharine Hepburn made her first (and, as it turned out, only) appearance at the Academy Awards to present the Irving Thalberg Award to producer Lawrence Weingarten. Hepburn's appearance was a surprise, and she was greeted with a standing ovation. She told the crowd, "I am also very happy that I didn't hear anyone call out, 'It's about time.' I am the living proof that a person can wait 41 years to be unselfish."
The 53rd Annual Grammy Awards will air live on Sunday, Feb. 13 from Staples Center in Los Angeles. The Recording Academy is trumpeting the fact that all five nominees for Album of the Year (Arcade Fire, Eminem, Lady Antebellum, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry) will perform on the show.
Crystal Ball: My Grammy predictions are up for The Big Categories (here's a link), as well as all the categories in the pop, rock, R&B, rap and country fields. I hope I help you win your office Grammy pool.