Santana Stays Cool At Pre-Grammy Party

Veteran Latin-rock guitarist, at Arista bash the night before awards show, says he's unconcerned with winning.

LOS ANGELES — It was the night before what is expected to be the biggest night of Carlos Santana's long career, but visions of Grammys weren't dancing in the Latin-rock veteran's head.

Strolling down the red carpet at the Beverly Hills Hotel — where a star-studded party for his label, Arista, was underway Tuesday — Santana said he doesn't particularly care whether he wins or loses.

"I'm not trippin' on that at all," the 52-year-old Santana explained. The virtuoso guitarist, who came draped in several necklaces over his matching green suit and hat, said, "All I want to do is to turn people on to John Coltrane and Bob Marley. I'm not a show-business guy at all."

Santana — whose guest-star-packed, multiplatinum comeback album, Supernatural, is up for 10 awards — may not be a show-biz guy, but he certainly was at a show-business party. Pop stars at the bash included TLC, Barry Manilow, Kid Rock, Tony Bennett, Billy Joel and Britney Spears.

Wearing a wrinkled pinstriped suit, Sean "Puffy" Combs — who is facing weapons charges in New York in connection with a nightclub shooting — ignored the press as he entered the party with actress/singer Jennifer Lopez on his arm.

The Sunset Boulevard Blues

Just a few blocks down Sunset Boulevard, at the House of Blues, Grammy nominees Moby and Macy Gray played for a crowd that included Sting, Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland, Sheryl Crow and members of the Roots. Also there was Rosie O'Donnell, who will host the 42nd Annual Grammy Awards, to be held Wednesday (Feb. 23) at the Staples Center and telecast by CBS.

The House of Blues event — which celebrated the 10th anniversary of MTV's "Rock the Vote" and honored Sting and U2 singer Bono for their political, environmental and social efforts — culminated in a duet by Moby and Grammy Legend Award recipient Elton John, on "Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?" As they performed, John's vocals replaced the sampled blues singer from the recorded version.(SonicNet is a division of MTV Interactive).

Gray also later turned up at a party held by the industry magazine Hits, along with fellow party-hoppers Kid Rock and Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich. But Gray, whose "Do Something" (RealAudio excerpt) is nominated for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, was hoping to save the real celebration for the following night.

"I don't want to get all dressed up just to lose," Gray said. "So hopefully I'll win."

Gray has support from an unlikely fan. "I think she's got a great style," said Barry Manilow, whose easy-listening hits include "Mandy" and "I Write the Songs." "She reminds me of Billie Holiday; it's my kind of music."

Kamal of the Roots, whose "You Got Me" (RealAudio excerpt), featuring Erykah Badu, is nominated for Best Rap Performance by a duo or group, said winning a Grammy would have significance much deeper than having a gold trophy to put on his fireplace mantle. "It would mean that we made it through a level that we're looking for," Kamal said shortly after arriving at the House of Blues. "It's a steppingstone."

No TLC For Santana

With six Grammy nods, TLC are up against Santana in the top two Grammy categories: Album of the Year, for Fanmail, and Record of the Year, for "No Scrubs" (RealAudio excerpt). Group member Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins said they won't feel guilty should they end up depriving the band of a clean sweep.

"I won't feel bad," T-Boz said. "They deserve it, but so do we."

Some of the biggest Grammy hopefuls weren't talking Tuesday night.

Accompanied by a massive, stern-faced bodyguard, Britney Spears, in a shiny, long-trained dress, glided in and out of the Arista party like royalty. She breezed by the assembled press on the red carpet, as well as by a young autograph seeker.

At the Hits party, Backstreet Boy Howie Dorough was similarly elusive — shielded by his own surly bodyguard, who kept the crooner safe from all interlopers.

But Kid Rock wasn't at all reticent about his plans for the Grammys. "I'm gonna open up a can of whup-ass on the boy bands," the rap-rocker said.

To view the official webcast of the Arista party, go to www.arista.com.