You knew Clive Davis would pull off a big surprise at this annual pre-Grammy gala. And so: beloved legend Joni Mitchell made a triumphant appearance last night in the Beverly Hilton ballroom two years after a cerebral brain hemorrhage felled her at home. She was wheelchair bound but that was only because of the huge walking distances at the Hilton.
Otherwise, with swept back hair and a beautiful ornamented top and black skirt Joni was absolutely glowing as literally dozens of famous people, rock stars, actors, and so on waited to pay tribute to her at a table she shared with family, friends, and director Cameron Crowe.
But that wasn't the whole surprise. Knowing she was coming, Clive flew in another legend, Judy Collins, who brought her guitar onto the stage midway through the show and performed Joni's "Both Sides Now" with her glorious and remarkable voice sweeping over the ballroom. There wasn't a dry eye in the house.
Especially moved was rock legend Stephen Stills, who wrote the famous song "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" about his then girlfriend back in 1969. And here's a scoop: Stills and Collins are going out on tour together this summer. The plans are being solidified right now.
Clive gave Joni several shout outs at the beginning of the star filled night that honored BET's Debra Lee and featured opening remarks from NARAS chief Neil Portnow, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. There were performances from Jennifer Hudson, Mary J. Blige, Maren Morris, DNCE, Panic at the Disco, Maxwell, Chance the Rapper, Bel Biv Devoe, Mike Posner, and another legend, Neil Diamond, who got the whole room up and singing a jubilant "Sweet Caroline."
Hudson was absolutely brilliant singing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." Mary J peeled the paint off the ceiling with "No More Drama." Maxwell gave an emotional tribute to Prince with "Nothing Compares 2 U," throwing in a mini-nod to Whitney Houston.
And then there was the guest list. This is the only event I can think of where most of the audience has to walk the red carpet. Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, Jane Fonda and famed music producer Richard Perry, the BeeGees' Barry Gibb, Michael Keaton, Jeremy Renner, Herbie Hancock, Anita Baker, Valerie Simpson - let's just start there. Apple's Tim Cook and Eddie Cue were incredibly popular. They were delighted to meet Courtney Love, who looked terrific and introduced herself to them.
Around the room, huge bunches of celebrities clogged the walkways - the security people kept asking big stars step to the side, which was sort of hilarious. But there was Ringo Starr, Joe Walsh, and their wives, plus Tamron Hall, Lee Daniels, Jimmy Jam Harris, Lena Dunham and Jack Antonoff, LL Cool J, Brian Grazer, Diane Warren, Max Martin, soul star Anthony Hamilton, Motown founder Berry Gordy. Even Weird Al Yankovic was in the house!
Oscar winner Jared Leto came, wearing a a crazy wool hat and a disguise. Caitlyn Jenner and Jon Voight sat together and talked about their love of Trump. (They didn't like Nancy Pelosi's beautiful speech about the arts, which bonded them.) Catilyn brought her daughter in law, Voight had his god-daughter with him.
We had the very high and the low at the same time - Wiz Kalifa smoked out and smooched with his new squeeze, Amber Rose. Britney Spears came with an Israeli bodyguard who immediately incurred the wrath of party security by insisting on standing behind her at her table to protect her from the other celebrities. Maybe she was afraid of Tony winner Cynthia Erivo or Paul Shaffer, or Peter Asher, or Beverly Johnson, Nikki Haskell, Beck, "Laugh In" creator George Schlatter, Sire Records founder Seymour Stein, legendary songwriters Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, or Barbra Streisand's famed manager Marty Erlichman. You know you can never be too careful!
Amazing night, once again - and more stories coming!
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