With a three-hour-plus telecast, sometimes it’s hard to just keep track of what is on TV for the Grammy Awards — but even outside of that, there’s a red carpet that opens up at noon PT, a pre-televised ceremony that begins at 12:30 p.m. and press room action that goes on until the final celebrity walks backstage after the show.
Thankfully, Billboard had all that — not to mention a few well-placed staffers throughout the Staples Center crowd — covered, and below we let you in on what you didn’t see on TV:
12:30 p.m. PT: The Grammy Awards Premiere Ceremony begins at the Microsoft Theatre — right next door to Staples Center, where the night’s main show goes down. The house band kicks things off with an instrumental medley that includes “Let’s Dance” by the late David Bowie.
12:40 p.m.: Jack Antonoff accepts the best pop vocal album prize for 1989 on behalf of Taylor Swift, who is rehearsing for her opening performance. When Antonoff calls Swift from the podium, she is stunned — and has a message for one of her fellow nominees: “Is James Taylor there? Can you tell James Taylor I love him?”
12:46 p.m.: Pentatonix wins, but they, too, are rehearsing. The arrangement, instrumental or a cappella Grammy win for “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” from the group’s Christmas album is their second straight win in the category.
— billboard (@billboard) February 15, 2016
1:49 p.m.: Dave Aude — who won remixed recording for his version of Mark Ronson‘s “Uptown Funk,” featuring Bruno Mars — reveals that his next big remix is bringing Kelsea Ballerini’s country hit “Love Me Like You Mean It” to the dance floor. Aude also celebrated his 111th No. 1 on Billboard‘s Dance Club Songs chart.
— Katie Atkinson (@ktatkinson) February 15, 2016
2:24 p.m.: Buddy Guy, who won best blues album for Born to Play Guitar, talked about the legacy of the late B.B. King and his impact on blues music, lamenting the fact that you can only hear the blues on satellite radio these days because hip-hop has taken over. “Maybe I should make some music with profanity in it,” he mused with a smile.
2:58 p.m.: Skrillex and Diplo hit the stage to accept best dance recording for “Where Are U Now,” shouting out Justin Bieber for the collaboration. “It’s just the beginning,” Skrillex said of their work. But wait, the Jack U boys are back! “Thanks again, good to see you all,” Skrillex jokes when they return to the stage to accept dance/electronic album for Skrillex and Diplo Present Jack U.
3:23 p.m.: “Two Grammys in one day,” Brittany Howard from Alabama Shakes marvels after winning best alternative album for Sound and Color and best rock song for “Don’t Wanna Fight” — but the telecast hasn’t even started yet, so who knows what lies ahead?
3:37 p.m.: The Premiere Ceremony comes to a close, with Jeff Bhasker (Ronson’s “Uptown Funk,” Cam‘s “Burning House” and much more) winning producer of the year, non-classical.
3:52 p.m.: Backstage, “Bad Blood” video producer Ron Morhoff tells reporters that the epic rollout for the best music video Grammy winner was planned from day one: All the special guest stars took the photos for their eventual promotional posters on the video set.
3:58 p.m.: Kirk Franklin won best gospel performance/song for “Wanna Be Happy?,” but that’s not the only headline he’ll make this weekend. He also performed “Ultra Light Beam” with Kanye West on Saturday Night Live. When asked about being involved with West’s The Life of Pablo, he got very philosophical. “I’m not trying to be a spiritual leader to the stars – that’s wack,” he said, adding, “If you’re Christian, you can’t just talk it. You have to be available to people.” So he’s obviously made himself available to Kanye. He ended his comments with this: “Who’s unredeemable?”
4:31 p.m.: “These Walls” singer Bilal hadn’t yet spoken to Kendrick Lamar about their rap/sung collaboration win because the To Pimp a Butterfly rapper was getting prepped for his performance. “Kendrick is probably somewhere right now just freaking out,” Bilal says backstage. “He’s backstage pounding water.”
4:37 p.m.: Mark Ronson scored his first win of the night when “Uptown Funk” with Bruno Mars won pop duo/group performance — and it all went down just a little over a week after he made his Super Bowl halftime debut. “It was so amazing that Coldplay invited us up to do our thing,” Ronson told Billboard backstage. “Even just in rehearsals, seeing Beyonce and Bruno do that dance-off was amazing.”
— billboard (@billboard) February 16, 2016
— Silvio Pietroluongo (@silpiet) February 16, 2016
5:39 p.m.: When Rihanna‘s performance comes and goes on the official lineup — scheduled after Andra Day and Ellie Goulding’s mash-up and before Cam and Gary Sinise’s best country album announcement — reporters begin buzzing in the press room about whether she’s a no-show or being reshuffled to another part of the show.
— Jem Aswad (@jemaswad) February 16, 2016
6:05 p.m.: Rihanna’s rep sends this statement to Billboard, confirming that there will be no “Kiss It Better” performance: “Based on Rihanna’s examination, after Grammy rehearsal today, Rihanna’s doctor put her on vocal rest for 48 hours because she was at risk of hemorrhaging her vocal cords. The antibiotics she has been on for three days did not kill the infection adequately therefore she cannot perform safely.”
Nice untelevised moment: #GRAMMYs producer Ken Ehrlich handed the Eagles the “hotel cali” award they didn’t show up to receive in 1977
— Jem Aswad (@jemaswad) February 16, 2016
6:46 p.m.: The press room breaks into applause, for the first time all night, as Kendrick Lamar wraps up his powerful medley, and the outline of Africa with the word “Compton” written on it flashes behind him.
8:29 p.m.: Paul Kilmister, son of Motorhead singer Lemmy Kilmister, had this cheeky review of the Hollywood Vampires’ tribute to his late dad: “I heard a wrong chord somewhere, but it’s rock and roll,” he joked.
8:44 p.m.: We might not think of Meghan Trainor as a “new artist” anymore, but she didn’t act like an old pro when she collected the best new artist prize. “My heart was exploding,” she told reporters. “I was just like, ‘Don’t forget anyone and don’t have snot running down your face.'”
8:50 p.m.: Recording Academy president Neil Portnow explained the absences of Rihanna and Lauryn Hill at the night’s show, emphasizing that “the story of this show is not that at all. The story of this show is the three and a half hours of music you heard.” With Rihanna, he found out 35 to 40 minutes before the show. For Lauryn, she came to dress rehearsal on Monday morning but didn’t make it back in time for a planned but unannounced performance with The Weeknd. “I guess those things happen.”
8:58 p.m.: Earth, Wind & Fire‘s Verdine White recalled telling Maurice White about the group’s Lifetime Achievement Award Grammy before he passed away. “I was pushing him: ‘You might want to go to this one,'” Verdine said of the phone call to his late brother.
9:03 p.m.: It’s been an epic year for Chris Stapleton, with big CMA wins and his first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 — and his momentum kept rolling Monday when he took home two Grammys, including country album of the year for Traveller. His thoughts on all this recognition? “It’s an Incredible, surreal, snowballing thing,” he told Billboard backstage. “It’s something that doesn’t fully soak in for a little bit. It’s a wonderful gift.”
9:16 p.m.: Alabama Shakes returned to the winners’ circle in the telecast for best rock performance, bringing their total to three Grammys. Backstage, frontwoman Brittany Howard shared a few thoughts on one of the night’s hottest topics: streaming. “My attitude towards it is why shouldn’t you be paid for something you worked hard on?” she asked a room of reporters. “You get paid for writing — you should get paid.”
9:27 p.m.: Portnow returns to the press room to address the infamous Adele sound issues — and take full responsibility. “From our standpoint, we just wanted to make it clear that that was an issue on our behalf.”