HOLLYWOOD — It was all good vibrations at Friday's MusiCares Person of the Year dinner, where the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Backstreet Boys and ?uestlove of the Roots honored Beach Boys singer Brian Wilson with kind words and musical tributes.
"He's a modern day Stravinsky,"
?uestlove said outside the Palladium before joining Wilson's band and John Legend for "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times." "The way he constructs his music, he's a madman. ... He was doing stuff [40 years ago] that modern people do now, looping his work and stuff. There's a track on Smile with a whole bunch of tubas having a conversation with trumpets. It's great."
The Chili Peppers opened the concert portion of the event with a rendition of "I Get Around" featuring Anthony Kiedis half-singing/half-rapping the verses and guitarist John Frusciante and bassist Flea harmonizing the chorus.
"God only knows how much we love Brian Wilson," Kiedis told the crowd, referencing one of the Beach Boys' many popular tunes, "God Only Knows," which Wilson performed later with India.Arie.
"I knew someone else much more important would be doing 'God Only Knows,' so my next choice was 'Sail on Sailor,' " British crooner Jamie
Cullum said before the 15th annual pre-Grammy bash, which has honored Bono and Sting in the past.
Cullum apparently made a wise choice, as his performance of the song, which also featured the gospel voices of Fred Martin and the Levite Camp, earned one of the night's only standing ovations (Wilson, of course, got the other).
"I think most musicians who aspire to play pop music would say Brian Wilson inspires them," Cullum said. "Brian Wilson and the Beatles."
The Backstreet Boys, who reunited last year to record their still-in-the-works new album, followed the Chili Peppers with "When I Grow Up (To Be a Man)," which they performed in five-part harmony while Wilson's band layered sunny melodies underneath them.
The group was happy to be both honoring Wilson and raising money for MusiCares, an organization that assists musicians with personal and physical struggles. "This organization has helped me be two and half years sober," A.J. McLean said.
Proceeds from ticket sales and an auction went to the Recording Academy-sponsored charity. "It's good to see the industry raising money for musicians who they took money from in the first place," joked host Jon Lovitz.
Photos: Chili Peppers, Backstreet Salute Brian Wilson
Other performers included veterans Richie Sambora; Earth, Wind & Fire; Darlene Love; Jeff Beck; Michael McDonald; Billy Preston; and Neil Young, who dedicated his moving version of "In My Room" to Brian as well as his late brothers, Dennis and Carl.
The only band to perform its own song was the Barenaked Ladies, who treated the full house to an acoustic version of "Brian Wilson."
"We're a band that focuses on harmonies, and [the Beach Boys] were the harmony rock and roll band," singer Steven Page explained of his band's longtime admiration for Wilson.
The Barenaked Ladies were one of the many acts who returned to the stage at night's end to perform with Wilson. After quickly thanking MusiCares (reading from a prompter) and singing "Heroes and Villains," "God Only Knows" and "Good Vibrations" with his band, Wilson welcomed the other performers for "Fun, Fun, Fun" and "Love and Mercy."
"I'm leaving you with a littler prayer," Wilson said before the final tune. And his apostles fittingly followed along.
Brian Wilson Presents Smile is nominated in two categories at Sunday's Grammy Awards.
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