After being commended for his artistic achievement and dedication to philanthropy, Neil Young was named MusiCares' person of the year Friday night in Los Angeles.
The ceremony featured performances and tributes from acts as diverse as Ozomatli, Wilco, Josh Groban, Elvis Costello, Lady Antebellum and Dave Matthews. "I remember when you came to my apartment in London and played your album for me at 3 a.m. and the neighbors complained," Elton John said. "You're one of my heroes."
Keith Urban, John Fogerty and Booker T performed "Rockin' In The Free World" and Crosby, Stills and Nash closed the show with a rendition of "Human Highway."
Recording Academy CEO Neil Portnow issued a fundraising challenge to the audience: Clive Calder granted $5 million to MusiCares, with the request that the donation be matched dollar for dollar. Portnow asked the crowd to triple the amount to $15 million.
Host Jack Black went above and beyond the call of duty by not only acting as master of ceremonies, but stripping down to his skivvies and auctioning off his clothes for MusiCares. (His Ben Sherman shoes went for $600.) Another auction item was a sign Young put backstage for the evening's performers that read: "Just do what you want to do, don't listen to anyone else." It was sold for $20,000 - and when another version of the sign was mocked up, it too was sold for $20,000.
Young was self-effacing during the whole affair, joking that "Pants on the Ground" was his biggest hit ever after watching Jimmy Fallon's dead-on impression of Young singing "American Idol's" fizzy pop culture song from earlier this month. Young did mention, however, that he is working on a new album and has about five songs recorded. "I'm going to keep on going," he said.
This is the 20th year for the MusiCares person of the year award; the organization helps musicians facing difficult economic circumstances.
Additional reporting by Gail Mitchell.