H.E.R., Gary Clark Jr., Dave Grohl and More Go Crazy For 'The Grammy Salute to Prince'

Bertrand Guay/AFP via Getty Images

Prince performs on Oct. 11, 2009 at the Grand Palais in Paris. 

“It’s still hard to believe he’s gone.”

That was one fan’s poignant reaction when Prince’s revered band The Revolution reunited at the Los Angeles Convention Center last night (Jan. 28) for the taping of Let’s Go Crazy: The Grammy Salute to Prince. The special, hosted by Maya Rudolph, is slated to air in April on the CBS Television Network. The timing coincides with the late seven-time Grammy winner’s untimely death on April 21, 2016.

As the Revolution triggered memories and emotions with its gripping performance of the Purple One gems “Delirious,” “Mountains” and “Purple Rain” (led by the indomitable Mavis Staples), it was a night of palpable love and energy both inside the venue -- and outside. For just down the street, hundreds of fans were celebrating the legacy of another prince, Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, at the Staples Center.

Back inside the Convention Center, the Revolution -- described by Grammy-winning producer Jimmy Jam as “the band with whom Prince changed the world” -- wasn’t the only act bringing down the house during the four-hour taping. With their trusty guitars in hand, H.E.R. and Gary Clark Jr. scorched the stage with their take on “Let’s Go Crazy.” Each of them later turned in blistering solo turns, performing “The Beautiful Ones” and “The Cross,” respectively.

The Foo Fighters ripped through a boisterous “Pop Life” before delivering an extra raw version of “Darling Nikki, which the group covered in 2003. Before diving into the latter track, frontman Dave Grohl laughed as he said, “I don’t know that he [Prince] liked it that much.” 

Longtime Prince collaborators The Time -- featuring Morris Day, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Jellybean Johnson and Jerome Benton -- stepped out to cheers and shout-outs as the band traveled back in time to crowd-pleasers such as “Jungle Love,” “Cool” and “The Bird.” Garbed head-to-toe in white (leather pants, lace shirt and gloves), a sinewy Miguel brought the audience back to its feet with an exuberant “I Would Die 4 U,” topped off by a flawless split. And Earth, Wind & Fire, spotlighting Philip Bailey’s soaring falsetto, performed “Adore.”

Super model Naomi Campbell and acclaimed ballerina Misty Copeland were among the Prince friends on hand introducing the various performances. Copeland spoke about what an honor it was to have toured with Prince as well as his staunch support of and collaborations with female musicians, engineers, songwriters and producers. Noted Copeland, “He showed me what it was to be a unique individual and own that power.”

The evening’s additional performance highlights included St. Vincent (“Controversy”), Juanes (“1999”), John Legend (“Nothing Compares to You”), Common (“Sign of the Times”) Beck (“Raspberry Beret”) and Coldplay’s Chris Martin with The Bangles’ Susanna Hoffs (“Manic Monday”). The taping closed with an all-star rendition of another Prince classic, “Baby I’m a Star.”

Sheila E. performed her signature hit collaboration with Prince, “The Glamorous Life.” She also played percussion with the backing band throughout the evening. Behind the scenes, Sheila E. doubled as the special’s co-musical director with Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. Ken Ehrlich, who produced his final Grammy Awards after 40 years on Jan. 26, executive produced Let’s Go Crazy: The Grammy Salute to Prince with the cooperation of The Prince Estate.