Some of the biggest names in music, movies, and entertainment showed up Friday night in downtown Los Angeles to honor Paul McCartney at the MusiCares Person of the Year, an annual pre-Grammy gala organized by the charitable arm of the Recording Academy.
The performers and guests included Yoko Ono, Coldplay, Tony Bennett, James Taylor, Neil Young, Alicia Keys, Foo Fighters, Christina Perri, Joe Walsh, Katy Perry, Smokey Robinson, Bonnie Raitt, Tom Hanks and wife Rita Wilson, Motown founder Berry Gordy, David Crosby and, of course, the guest of honor: Sir Paul, who was joined by his wife Nancy Shevell and son James.
On the red carpet, Smokey Robinson, no slouch himself as a songwriter, said that as a musician, McCartney “has definitely made a contribution that will live on and on and on forever and ever,” adding, “He’s gonna live through his music, like Beethoven.”
Joe Walsh, meanwhile, said McCarntey’s bass playing — not something that most people think of when talking about his greatest achievements — was truly revolutionary.
On the red carpet, he explained, “Paul made a melody out his bass part. You could kinda sing some of them…and that melodic approach to the bass was unheard-of in those days.”
Tom Hanks, meanwhile, believes that McCartney and the Beatles not only made timeless music, but they actually changed the world. Recalling on the red carpet what it was like for him to hear the Beatles for the first time in early 1964, Hanks said, “My world was so palpably sad because of the assassination of John F. Kennedy and it was less than three months prior, so it was wintertime, it was bleak, it seemed to be raining all the time, it was cold and windy. And then these guys came on, and everybody talked about it, and honestly, the world was different, as of then.”
At the event, stars paid tribute to Sir Paul by performing songs from his catalog, including Beatles classics, solo hits and Wings songs. McCartney told the crowd, “For me, obviously it’s just fantastic to hear these fantastic artists singing my songs and making ‘em sound so beautiful…putting the nuances on the songs that I didn’t know were there, so it’s just a fantastic evening for me.”
McCartney himself kicked off the night by performing “Magical Mystery Tour” and “Junior’s Farm,” and later returned to the stage to play some tracks from his new album “Kisses on the Bottom,” as well as “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five” from “Band on the Run.” He closed out the night with the Beatles’ Abbey Road classic “Golden Slumbers.”
Here’s a rundown of which performers played what at the MusiCares gala:
Foo Fighters – “Jet”
Alicia Keys – “Blackbird”
Alison Krauss and Union Station – “No More Lonely Nights”
Tony Bennett – “Here There and Everywhere”
Duane Eddy – “And I Love Her”
Norah Jones – “Oh! Darling”
Katy Perry – “Hey Jude”
Neil Young – “I Saw Her Standing There”
Sergio Mendes – “The Fool on the Hill”
Coldplay – “We Can Work It Out”
James Taylor – “Yesterday”
Diana Krall – “For No One,” with James Taylor on guitar
Recording Academy President Neil Portnow said that Friday night’s crowd was bigger than last year’s attendance of 2,500, who showed up to honor Barbra Streisand, and so the final total raised for charity would likely eclipse last year’s record sum of $4.75 million.