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MUSICARES HONORS PETTY, BIZ FOLKS APPLAUD

In one of the video clips interspersed between performances, this year’s MusiCares Person of the Year, Tom Petty, noted that his greatest musical influences were the songs he heard on the radio as a kid growing up in Florida. Later, in his acceptance speech, he told a story about being at Mo Ostin’s house with George Harrison and Jeff Lynne, still smarting from having his latest record rejected by his then-label MCA. Tom remembered that George had suggested that he and Tom play one of the songs, “Free Fallin’.”

After hearing the song played on two acoustic guitars, Mo declared the song a hit, and MCA eventually released it as a single, along with the album Full Moon Fever (which won the Grammy for Album of the Year). Despite the music business (including his legendary battles with MCA), Tom Petty has had an incredible, enduring 40-year career with his band The Heartbreakers (“one of the two or three best bands, ever,” according to him). A record $8.5 million was raised last night for MusiCares and an epic 27 songs were performed.

The audience was comprised of Recording Academy members who could afford the hefty ticket price, lawyers, promoters, managers and label execs for the artists performing, more lawyers, publishers, a big Warner Bros. turnout, and agents, most either going to or coming from Tom Windish and Emma Ludbrook’s wedding (which was a “rock ‘n’ roll EVENT,” according to Daniel Glass). Steve Blatter from SiriusXM, home of the Tom Petty channel, was there, along with Gary Dell’AbateHoward Stern’s longtime producer, John Stamos and Steve Leeds.  I heard that Kate Upton was there, which makes sense, because I was mistaken for her a few times during the course of the night (no, I wasn’t). Ringo Starr, Joe Walsh, Gina Gershon and Nancy Pelosi were also spotted, and I was repeatedly offered alcohol by promoter-to-the-stars Louis Messina (he also offered to introduce me to George Strait, which I gladly accepted.)

At left: KG with SXM's Steve Blatter, who will also not back down.

 I attended as a guest of The Lumineers, whose performance of “Walls” was Petty’s favorite of the evening, as he made a point to tell the band in their dressing room at the end of the show. And then he reiterated, “I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t mean it,” to which his wife added, “He never does this!” Other highlights of the night were the performances by Strait (“You Wreck Me”), Norah Jones (“You Don’t Know How It Feels”), The Head and the Heart (“You Got Lucky”), plus Petty’s incredible 40-minute set at the end, including two songs with Stevie Nicks and one with Jeff Lynne on lead vocals (“I Won’t Back Down”). “Runnin’ Down A Dream” capped the 27-song performance—by then, just after midnight, we had ditched our tables, in favor of a better view in front of the stage.

At right: the author with Dualtone's Lori Kampa. Both are endeavoring to take it easy, baby, so as to make it last all night.

I was the high bidder for a photo of Iggy Pop by Chris Cuffaro in the blind auction—soon to grace my office wall. Maybe MusiCares should consider making Iggy Person of the Year, next year…

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