Some of the most beloved performers at the Grammys weren’t even there on Monday night.
Among the many remembrances of recently deceased music legends at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards were heartfelt tributes to Glenn Frey, a founding member of the hugely successful Eagles, and David Bowie, the musician and actor whose sense of style and invention transformed rock music.
Jackson Browne, the honored singer-songwriter and a longtime friend of the Eagles, led the group’s remaining members in a spirited rendition of “Take it Easy,” a song co-written by Browne and Frey and taken from the band’s 1972 album. Frey died Jan. 18 at age 67.
Later in the show, Lady Gaga celebrated the life and art of Bowie, who died on Jan. 10 at age 69. Gaga performed a splashy, typically Gaga-colorful medley of Bowie songs, including “Space Oddity,” “Changes,” “Ziggy Stardust,” “Suffragette City” “Rebel Rebel,” “Fame” and “Fashion.”
The tributes come in a year that’s already been especially hard for fans of popular music. Paul Kantner, a founding member of Jefferson Airplane, died on Jan. 28 at age 74. Signe Anderson, Jefferson Airplane’s lead singer before Grace Slick joined the band, died at age 74 — the same day as Kantner. Maurice White, a founder of Earth, Wind & Fire, died on Feb. 4 also at age 74.
More tragedy struck the music world hours before the awards ceremony. Vanity, a protege of Prince and a singer, died on Monday, at age 57, after long battles with kidney failure and abdominal illness.
In other nods to absent friends, Gary Clark Jr., Bonnie Raitt and Chris Stapleton (who won a Grammy for Best Country Album earlier in the evening) performed “The Thrill Is Gone,” a heartfelt tribute to B.B. King, the blues guitar legend who died last May.
And in an incendiary salute to Lemmy Kilmister, the late bass guitarist and guiding spirit of Motorhead, Alice Cooper, Duff McKagan, Matt Sorum, Joe Perry and Johnny Depp (aka the Hollywood Vampires) performed “Ace of Spades” in all its pyrotechnic glory after being introduced by Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters.
“I was proud to call him my friend,” Grohl said of Kilmister, who died on Dec. 28. “Lemmy and Motorhead left their mark on me a long time ago.”