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Gathered here today to get through this thing called self-quarantined life: 'Grammy Salute to Prince' is perfectly timed

·Editor in Chief, Yahoo Music
·7 min read
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Many years ago, Prince sang, “Party over, oops, outta time” — predicting one last purple pre-apocalypse hurrah in his Cold War hit, “1999.” Well, Prince might have been early by about 21 years. But a line like “life is just a party, and parties weren't meant to last” certainly resonated in an eerie and unexpected way Tuesday, when CBS finally aired Let’s Go Crazy: The Grammy Salute to Prince.

The two-hour, all-star special was actually taped at the Los Angeles Convention Center not all that long ago — on Jan. 28, two days after the Grammy Awards. However, now we’re in the midst of a national shutdown, when the only musical performances airing onscreen are Instagram Live streams shot on iPhones in celebrities’ living rooms. So, such a massive-scale, razzle-dazzle rock ‘n’ roll production almost felt like archival footage of a bygone Pop Life. It all would have been so bittersweet, especially since Let’s Go Crazy aired on the four-year anniversary of Prince’s death… if it hadn’t been so damn celebratory.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 28: (L-R) Sheila E. and Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters performs onstage during the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards  "Let's Go Crazy" The GRAMMY Salute To Prince on January 28, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 28: (L-R) Sheila E. and Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters performs onstage during the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards "Let's Go Crazy" The GRAMMY Salute To Prince on January 28, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

The overhead crane shots of that giant, curly, Symbol-shaped stage. Bandleader Sheila E. and host Maya Rudolph swathed in full-body purple sequins. Electric guitar goddess St. Vincent absolutely shredding on “Controversy” and looking like an ‘80s Prince protégé in her lavender lace leotard, sharp Sheena Easton bob, and thigh-skimming space-boots. Beck smoothly grooving to “Raspberry Beret” in his puffy shirt and pastel Paisley Park suit. Heartthrob Miguel in a breakaway blouse, taking the packed, not-at-all-social-distancing audience on a journey straight to Erotic City with his sweaty, stage-writhing rendition of “I Would Die 4 U.” John Legend, Gary Clark Jr., and Mavis Staples taking everyone to church with their respective gospel-tinged covers of “Nothing Compares 2 U,” “The Cross,” and “Purple Rain.” And so on. Yes, dearly beloved, we were gathered here today, in self-quarantine, to get through this thing called life — and this Princely spectacle was exactly the sort of escapist entertainment we all needed.

One moment that definitely had the crowd going crazy, although reactions among fans on Twitter were mixed, came when the Foo Fighters — upon Grammy telecast producer Ken Ehrlich’s request — revisited their viral, rollicking “Darling Nikki” cover for the first time in nearly two decades. Lead singer Dave Grohl confessed that Prince had actually loathed the Foos’ version. “I don't know if Prince liked it that much,” he sheepishly chuckled. “And we weren't planning on doing it — we hadn't played it in 20 years!” Off the air, Grohl did point out that he and Prince patched things up, as evidenced by the fact that Prince later performed the Foos’ own “Best of Me” at his history-making 2007 Super Bowl halftime show (although some people interpreted Prince’s Foos cover as a dig against the band). Grohl even revealed that he once got to jam with Prince in an empty stadium — which he called “one of the greatest moments of my pop life.”

What really made Let’s Go Crazy such an effective tribute to “the enduring spirit of the artist forever known as Prince,” as Rudolph worded it, were the different personal connections that so many of the participants had to the Purple One. The above-mentioned Beck, for instance, received his Album of the Year trophy from Grammy presenter Prince in 2015, and he was the first artist to record at Paisley Park Studios after Prince’s passing. Ballerina Misty Copeland, who toured with Prince a decade ago, gorgeously pirouetted onstage to H.E.R.’s spectacular performance of “The Beautiful Ones.” And while Chris Martin and Susanna Hoffs’s slowed-down piano remake of “Manic Monday” was somewhat airless, the Bangles frontwoman’s personal connection to the song, which Prince gifted her under the pseudonym Christopher, still lent the moment a certain sweetness.

But it was the members of Prince’s inner purple circle who were the true stars of the show. Sheila E. not only served as the musical director with the Time’s Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, but sat in with the Foo Fighters and Common (for “Sign O’ the Times”) and blazed through “America” and her own Prince-penned smash, “The Glamorous Life.” Morris Day and the Time, amusingly introduced as “perhaps Prince’s greatest creation besides himself,” brought down the house with “Jungle Love,” “Cool,” and “The Bird,” complete with an appearance by mirror-brandishing sidekick Jerome Benton. And Prince’s most famous band, the Revolution, were the night’s MVPs, triumphantly accompanying Rudolph’s tribute duo Princess on an exuberant “Delirious” and Staples on “Purple Rain,” although their majestic “Mountains” performance unfortunately didn’t make it to air.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 28: (L-R) Maya Rudolph and Gretchen Lieberum of Princess perform with Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman onstage during the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards  "Let's Go Crazy" The GRAMMY Salute To Prince on January 28, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 28: (L-R) Maya Rudolph and Gretchen Lieberum of Princess perform with Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman onstage during the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards "Let's Go Crazy" The GRAMMY Salute To Prince on January 28, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 28: Morris Day and Jerome Benton of The Time perform onstage during the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards  "Let's Go Crazy" The GRAMMY Salute To Prince on January 28, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 28: Morris Day and Jerome Benton of The Time perform onstage during the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards "Let's Go Crazy" The GRAMMY Salute To Prince on January 28, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

While nothing could compare to the missing man of the hour — “When it came to performing, I'm sorry, but Prince still has everyone beat,” Rudolph acknowledged, as the audience roared in agreement — in uncertain times, there was something comforting about seeing so many artists united in their nostalgia for Prince. “To me, Prince is music. To love Prince is to love music,” proclaimed Rudolph. “In his wildly productive time here, Prince created a body of work that will truly outlive us all.”

The full setlist for Let’s Go Crazy: The Grammy Salute to Prince was:

H.E.R. and Gary Clark Jr. “Let’s Go Crazy”

Miguel, “I Would Die 4 U”

St. Vincent, “Controversy”

John Legend, “Nothing Compares 2 U”

Juanes, “1999”

H.E.R., “The Beautiful Ones”

Usher, “Little Red Corvette,” “When Doves Cry,” “Kiss”

Chris Martin and Susanna Hoffs, “Manic Monday”

The Time, “Jungle Love,” Cool,” “The Bird”

Foo Fighters, “Darling Nikki” (plus “Pop Life” off-air)

Earth, Wind & Fire, “Adore”

Common, “Sign O’ the Times”

Beck, “Raspberry Beret”

Gary Clark Jr., “The Cross”

Sheila E., “America,” “Free,” “The Glamorous Life”

Princess, “Delirious”

The Revolution, “Mountains” (off-air)

Mavis Staples and the Revolution, “Purple Rain”

All-stars, “Baby I’m a Star”

Read more from Yahoo Entertainment:

· The Revolution recalls making Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’: ‘He was frantically telling us we were making history’

· Back in Time: Morris Day talks 'Bird' inspiration, mirror moves, lost Trump song, and food fights with Prince

· Beck talks ‘Hyperspace’ journey, from Zankou Chicken to Paisley Park

· The Revolution reunites at First Avenue: This is what it sounds like when Prince fans cry

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