Sir Paul McCartney performing onstage during the 22nd Annual MusiCares Benefit Gala Honoring Paul McCartney at the Los Angeles Convention Center. (Photo: WireImage)
Few events bring out more music industry executives than the annual MusiCares Person of the Year gala during Grammy Week, and Friday night's event went beyond expectations as 2,800 people packed into the Los Angeles Convention Center to witness a tribute to Paul McCartney.
As a show it was exceptional. "Probably the best ever -- and I have been to a couple dozen of these," Nederlander Concerts CEO Alex Hodges told Billboard.biz. He should know, having a concert career that dates back to co-managing Otis Redding and the Allman Brothers Band in their early days.
From left: Chairman of Sony Corp. Sir Howard Stringer, Chairman of Universal Music Group Doug Morris, CBS President/CEO Leslie Moonves, Recording Academy President and CEO Neil Portnow. (Photo: WireImages)
The attraction of McCartney certainly shot up attendance -- as well as money raised for MusiCares, which pulled in $6.5 million from the event -- but throughout the pre-show silent auction and in the main room, the industry schmooze was in full force, with a huge percentage of Billboard's "Power 100" players in the house.
Sony Music CEO Doug Morris (no. 5) and Sony/ATV's Marty Bandier (no. 4), who was hunting for some last-minute auction items to bid on, were making each other smile; CAA's Rob Light (no. 7) chatted with manager Andy Gould; AEG's Randy Phillips (no. 15) was in deep conversation with veteran producer/A&R exec Lorne Saifer; and RCA's Tom Corson and Peter Edge (who share no. 41) were huddling with Sony Pictures' Lia Vollack (no. 51).
Legendary singer Tony Bennett performing onstage during the 22nd Annual MusiCares Benefit Gala honoring Sir Paul McCartney held at Los Angeles Convention Center. (Photo: WireImage)
As the assembled crowd made its way from the auction room to the main ballroom, 20th Century Fox's Robert Kraft was walking in with songwriter/producer Dr. Luke (no. 30) while Michael Jackson estate masters Jeff Jampol and John Branca (no. 72) followed. Producer Don Was, still getting adjusted to his role as the new president of Blue Note was on hand, having just finished the mix of a track for a new John Mayer album.
Artist and musician Yoko Ono with Neil Portnoy (Photo: WireImage)
In mid-show, Epic Records chief/"The Voice" judge L.A. Reid (no. 37) made his way over to the BET table to say hi to the cable network's Debra Lee (no. 94) and Stephen Hill; the aisle was walked by the likes of Richard Branson, Hugh Hefner and Glassnote Records' Daniel Glass (no. 99). Post-concert minglings included "American Idol" judge Randy Jackson with Concord Records' John Burk.
Jackson, a bassist himself, was asked to put McCartney's role as an instrumentalist into perspective and the man who has played with Bruce Springsteen and Journey made it about songwriting.
American Idol judge, bassist and producer Randy Jackson (WireImage)
"The first melodic bass player," Jackson said before changing thought in midstream, "those are not just songs he played tonight, those are copyrights. They're something that will last forever." Jackson was particularly impressed by the performances of Neil Young and Crazy Horse ("I Saw Her Standing There") and Alison Krauss and Union Station ("No More Lonely Nights").
Foo Fighters performing at the the Los Angeles Convention Center the 22nd Annual MusiCares Benefit Gala Honoring Paul McCartney (WireImage)
McCartney opened the evening with two performances -- "Magical Mystery Tour" and "Junior's Farm" -- before turning over the stage to the Foo Fighters, Norah Jones, Alicia Keys, Coldplay, James Taylor and others. Eddie Izzard, who concocted an elaborately error-filled and comedy-riddled McCartney bio, was the emcee.
President of Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) Tim Leiweke (left) and The Recording Academy's Neil Portnow. (WireImage)
Songwriters turned out to pay tribute to a legend as well, with Smokey Robinson, Jeff Lynne, Mike Stoller, Diane Warren, Jason Mraz, Corrine Bailey Rae, on hand . Jeff Jones represented McCartney's Beatles' era; Norman Lear was there for Macca's MPL side. Yoko Ono was on hand, too, though no sight of Ringo Starr.
Crazy Horse (From left:) Billy Talbot, Frank Sampedro and Neil Young performing at the MusiCares Person of the Year Tribute to Paul McCartney. (WireImage)
Also making the rounds were the Vans Warped Tour's Kevin Lyman, CAA's Peter Grosslight (no. 32) and Mitch Rose, APA's Jim Goisnell, producer Garth Fundis, Vector Management's Jack Rovner, ASCAP's Paul Williams, BMI's Barbara Cane, attorneys John Frankenheimer (no. 75), Don Passman and Jay Cooper.
Chris Martin of Coldplay whoe performed at the 2012 MusiCares Person of the Year Tribute to Paul McCartney (WireImage)
Quint Davis of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival was on hand. He goes way back with McCartney, having found the piano legend Professor Longhair working as a janitor and reviving his career; McCartney hired Fess to play his birthday party in 1978.
All were treated to an evening that balanced the Beatles, Wings and his album released on Tuesday, "Kisses on the Bottom." While everyone was seated, BET's Stephen Hill was among the handful of attendees who could not control themselves and needed to stand and dance throughout the higher energy performances.
From left: Producer David Foster, model Yolanda Hadid and Doug Morris (Photo: WireImage)
"I enjoyed Wings more than the Beatles," Hill said, explaining his fanaticism. "That music was my seventh and eighth grade years. I was attracted to the sensitivity of his lyrics and as he worked with Stevie (Wonder) and Michael (Jackson) that was part of how I was exploring music."
Katy Perry performing at the MusiCares Tribute to Paul McCartney in stunning headwear. (WireImage)
From left: Musician Pegi Young, musician Neil Young, Rachel Agosto, and The Recording Academy President and CEO Neil Portnow (Photo: WireImage)
President, Clear Channel Entertainment Enterprises John Sykes (left) and President/CEO of The Recording Academy Neil Portnow (Photo: WireImage)
Chair Emeritus of The Recording Academy, Jimmy Jam (R) and Lisa Harris (Photo: WireImage)
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft , TV personality Julie Chen and CBS Leslie Moonves (Photo: WireImage)
To Sir With Love: Nancy Shevell (left) smooching her husband Sir Paul McCartney (Photo: WireImage)
Entertainment Law Initiative Executive Committee chairman Ken Abdo (right) with the Recording Academy's Neil Portnow (Photo: WireImage)
Music producer Lou Adler (Photo: WireImage)