February 12, 2012
Grammy award lifetime achievements

Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs will be honoured at the Grammy Awards Feb. 12. (Kimihiro HOSHINO/AFP)

"If there's a dry eye in the house at the end," said Grammy bigwig Neil Portnow, "we haven't achieved what we want to achieve."

Surprisingly, he wasn't talking about the Whitney Houston tribute on Sunday's Grammy Awards telecast. The president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences - speaking hours before news of Houston's death broke - was introducing this year's Special Merit Awards ceremony at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre.

The annual presentation of lifetime achievement prizes, trustee's awards and technical Grammys is often an emotional affair. But this year's event was especially moving, as many of the recipients were no longer with us - or are dealing with health issues that prevented them from attending the ceremony. The class of 2012 included Supreme soul diva Diana Ross, country icons Glen Campbell and George Jones, southern rockers The Allman Brothers Band, New Orleans musician and songwriter Dave Bartholomew, bossa nova pioneer Antonio Carlos Jobim, rap trailblazer Gil Scott-Heron, long-serving brass duo The Memphis Horns, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, software designer Peter Neuhacker and recording engineers Rudy Van Gelder and Roger Nichols. Here's a quick rundown of the major honourees:


Diana Ross

"Hallelujah!" enthused the 67-year-old diva, looking resplendent in a red gown as she accepted her lifetime achievelement award for a five-decade career that began with The Supremes, continued as a solo artist — and isn't over yet. "It's been such an incredible ride. I'm very happy, very excited, and look forward to going in the studio to make new music," she said, sparking a well-deserved standing ovation from the crowd of music-industry insiders and media.


Glen Campbell

The 75-year-old musician, actor and TV star — who announced he'll be retiring from music due to Alzheimer's — will be honoured and perform during Sunday's Grammy telecast. But first, he took the stage to be recognized for his lengthy, multi-faceted career and catalog of hits like Rhinestone Cowboy, Galveston, By the Time I Get to Phoenix, Gentle on My Mind, Southern Nights and more. The jovial Campbell even made light of his condition while accepting his prize with helpful wife Kimberley, who noted there were many people he wanted to thank. "Yeah!" he agreed. "Who are they?"


The Allman Brothers Band

Much like an Allmans concert, their acceptance ceremony turned into an epic affair, with 11 people — including original members Gregg Allman, Butch Trucks and Jaimoe, newer recruits like Warren Haynes, Derek Trucks, Chuck Leavell, Mark Quinones and Oteil Burbridge, and the children of late members Duane Allman and Berry Oakley — coming to the podium to speak and accept statuettes. "I want to apologize for tomorrow at the Grammys," said Portnow. "We've run out of trophies." The bandmates were equally entertaining. Butch Trucks launched into a hilarious shaggy-dog story about Duane Allman and Jaimoe before thanking the latter for "giving me my life." Jaimoe, after thanking everyone he ever met in his life, countered that he joined the band on the advice of a friend: "If you wanna make some money, go play with them white boys.” And Haynes introduced himself by saying "I joined the band 23 years ago; I'm a newcomer." If the music thing doesn't work out, comedy awaits.


Gil Scott-Heron

Thanks to his spoken-word delivery and topical songs like The Revolution Will Not be Televised, Scott-Heron is often heralded as a founding father of rap. But the singer-songwriter — who died last year — thought of himself more as a bluesologist, we heard. His award was accepted by his children. "I'm kind of glad it's not televised," his daughter Raquiyah Kelly Heron said of the ceremony, referencing her father's classic song. "He would have probably said something and gotten fined."


George Jones

For a guy called Possum and No-Show, Jones is a pretty active dude. At 80 — more than 50 years after he began his tumultuous career that has been defined by equal parts bad behavior and great achievements — Jones is still touring and recording. "This is a big thrill," exclaimed the former husband and longtime duet partner of Tammy Wynette. “At my age, it's good to be thought of by any type of award.”


Antonio Carlos Jobim

Brazilian-born Jobim helped usher in the bossa nova craze with the breezy melodies and complex rhythms of songs like The Girl From Ipanema, one of the most recorded songs of all time. He died in 1994, but his daughter travelled from Brazil to accept his award.


The Memphis Horns

Over their decades together, trumpet player Wayne Jackson and saxophonist Andrew Love have performed with a who's who of the music industry, from soul icons like Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding and Rufus Thomas to Neil Diamond, Elvis Presley, Stephen Stills, Sting, Peter Gabriel and U2. "I can count 83 No. 1 albums, " said an emotional Jackson, accepting on behalf of his ailing partner. "That's a lot." Indeed.


Dave Bartholomew

The New Orleans icon may not be a household name, but his work is: He co-wrote most of Fats Domino's hits, including I'm Walking, Blue Monday and Ain't That a Shame, along with classics like I Hear You Knocking and Goin' Home. Knee troubles kept the 91 year old at home, said one of his two sons. "He started off with small goals: He wanted a duplex home ... and a used car so he could get back and forth to work,” said Ron Bartholomew. "But from those small ambitions, he gave us great things."


Steve Jobs

With the iPod and iTunes, the Apple co-founder and technical visionary revolutionized the way the world buys, sells, consumes and listens to music. iTunes sells more than 12 million songs a day — some 139 songs per second, a Grammy official told the audience. "That's something for which everyone in this room can be thankful." Everyone except the CD factories, anyway.


The Grammys also added 25 new songs and albums into its Hall of Fame collection:

• Exile on Main St. | The Rolling Stones (1972)

• Born in the U.S.A. | Bruce Springsteen (1984)

• Deja Vu | Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (1970)

• Graceland | Paul Simon (1986)

• Santana | Santana (1969)

• Herb Alpert Presents Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 | Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 (1966)

• The Message | Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five feat. Melle Mel & Duke Bootee (1982)

• What’s Love Got to Do With It | Tina Turner (1984)

• I Will Survive | Gloria Gaynor (1978)

• Wasted Days & Wasted Nights | Freddy Fender (1975)

• Anthology of American Folk Music | Various Artists (1952)

• Foggy Mountain Jamboree | Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs (1957)

• Deep in the Heart of Texas | Gene Autry (1942)

• Anything Goes | Cole Porter (1934)

• Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be) | Doris Day (1956)

• Fixin’ to Die | Bukka White (1940)

• Key to the Highway | Big Bill Broonzy (1941)

• How Long, How Long Blues | Leroy Carr (1928)

• Kassie Jones | Furry Lewis (1928)

• Precious Lord, Take My Hand | Mahalia Jackson (1956)

• I Started Out as a Child | Bill Cosby (1964)

• I Have a Dream | Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1963)

• Roy Harris Symphony No. 3 | Serge Koussevitzky, cond.; Boston Symphony Orchestra (1940)

• St. Louis Woman | Original Broadway Cast (1946)

• Mexicantos | Los Panchos (1945)