Billboard Goes Backstage At The Grammys

Billboard goes behind the scenes of the 43rd annual Grammys to find out what the evening's big winners -- including Steely Dan, Rage Against The Machine, Faith Hill, and Toni Braxton -- have in store.

Billboard reporters Larry Flick, Gail Mitchell, Chris Morris, and Melinda Newman offer a behind-the-scenes view of the 43rd annual Grammy Awards, which took place Wednesday in Los Angeles.

Despite rampant rumors that former Soundgarden front man Chris Cornell will join the lineup of Rage Against the Machine, which took home the trophy for best hard rock performance ("Guerrilla Radio"), guitarist Tom Morello asserted that the replacement for departed vocalist Zack de la Rocha has not been chosen.

"We've been jamming with a lot of friends lately, and Chris is among them," he said. "The two days we jammed with him were downright groundbreaking. It was off the scale." Although Morello noted that the band and Cornell have created "two great songs," there's no decision yet on where they'll turn up. "We're just enjoying making music again. That's all we're concerned with right now," he reported.

Although it was 20 years between Steely Dan's "Gaucho" and album of the year winner "Two Against Nature," the duo believes it won't be two decades before the group's next project. "We're working on some new stuff now," Walter Becker said.

However, bandmate Donald Fagen noted that the music won't be influenced by any modern tunes. "I haven't listened to the radio for, like, 30 years," Fagen admitted. "I still listen to the same jazz records I listened to in high school, basically." He also said that the act planned to wind down from its year in the spotlight by "resuming our normal lives as shut-ins."

Although Capitol quintet Radiohead failed to win the coveted album of the year trophy, it did snag best alternative rock album honors for the acclaimed "Kid A," which will be followed in June by "Amnesiac," a new set featuring some songs created during the "Kid A" sessions.

"We originally considered releasing a double-album but eventually decided that it would be more effective to divide the music into two distinctive sets," noted Radiohead guitarist Ed O'Brien, adding that the act is currently preparing a tour that will bring it to U.S. shores this summer. "This next album is more song-driven."

Triple-Grammy-winner Faith Hill is taking a break from touring this year, but that doesn't mean she's taking time off from the studio. Hill will have a Christmas album out in 2001 and is working on a studio album that will come out late this year or in early 2002. She revealed that she's also eyeing the prospect of taking the leap into acting. "We're looking at a few scripts right now. I think we'll decide on something soon," she said.

Although Gloria Estefan said she was "ecstatic" about taking home a Grammy for best traditional tropical Latin album for her Epic opus "Alma Caribena," she says she's also pleased she can now focus on balancing musical projects with film roles. She and husband/manager Emilio Estefan Jr. are currently developing scripts, which she hopes will broaden the creative scope of her career.

"At this point in my career, I feel like my options are only getting greater," she said. "I know that I'm extremely fortunate in that regard. Usually, the opposite happens as you get older. In my case, I feel like the more I mature as a person, the more I have to offer in my work."

Lifetime Achievement honoree Tony Bennett certainly isn't slowing down. He says he's working on three albums, including a bass, guitar, and vocal album produced by Grammy Trustees Award recipient Phil Ramone. "It's something I'm having a lot of fun doing, and I think that will come out in the wax . . . My whole premise of recording is doing things with great care and taking my time with it. There are no records [of mine] that sound dated. They still sound new," he said.

Best female R&B vocal performance honoree Toni Braxton nabbed the unofficial Jennifer Lopez Award for most daring designer duds by wearing a "little" Richard Tyler number in white. "I've always been a little risque," said Braxton. "Now that the bankruptcy and other problems are over, I wanted to do something like this again. The dress is all connected inside . . . or is that too much information?" she said, laughing.

Braxton said she's been recording demos for a new album that will be released later this year, as well as preparing for a tour that will start after the album is released. In the meantime, she's looking forward to her feature film debut in "Kingdom Come" (starring Whoopi Goldberg) and her April 21 marriage to Mint Condition member Keri Lewis.

R&B statesmen the Temptations earned a fourth Grammy when the group's Ear-Resistible snared the award for best traditional R&B vocal album. "We've been in this business 41 years," said Otis Williams, who's also the venerable quintet's sole original member. "We've never had the feeling that we want to stop. We've got the strength of Samson."

Williams said the group is preparing to meet with Motown president/CEO Kedar Massenburg regarding its next album, eyeing a possible 2002 release. However, he also noted that he "has hopes" of starting a label of his own.

Best new artist nominee Brad Paisley told Billboard his recent induction into the Grand Ole Opry is "the greatest thing that ever happened to me. It's the reason we have country music." So how did he celebrate his induction? By heading back into the studio until 3 a.m. "It was our last day of mixing the new album. We were there as late as we could be." The album, coming this spring, includes a live cut of "Old Rugged Cross," taped from Paisley's Dec. 16 Opry performance. It also includes a tune featuring Paisley, George Jones, Buck Owens, and Bill Anderson on a remake of Anderson's "Too Country." "I would love to see it be released as a single later on," said Paisley.

In the rock music field, Foo Fighters nabbed two awards: best rock album for the Roswell/RCA set "There Is Nothing Left To Lose" and best shortform music video for "Learn To Fly," which it shared with director Jesse Peretz and producer Tina Nakane. Despite the multiple honors, head Foo Fighter Dave Grohl joked backstage that "we're not big winners. We're actually big losers." He added that the band will soon enter the studio to begin working on a new record, due early next year.


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