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Grammys pay tribute to Shankar, King, Temptations

LOS ANGELES – Ravi Shankar passed away in December before he could attend The Recording Academy’s Special Merit Awards celebration where he was to receive a lifetime achievement award. But the 91-year-old sitar master, Indian music promoter and friend to The Beatles got the call a few days before he passed away, and that meant everything to his family.

“I was very excited to hear about the lifetime achievement award a week before my dad passed away, one day before he went into surgery,” Shankar’s daughter, Norah Jones, said in an email to the Associated Press a few hours before the ceremony. “He knew about it and was very happy, and also that he and my sister, Anoushka, were both nominated in the same category for a Grammy (this year) was a special thing as well. We all miss him and are very proud of him. I will forever be discovering and re-discovering his music from all walks of his long and amazing life.”

Jones and Anoushka Shankar’s acceptance of their father’s award Saturday afternoon at the Wilshire Ebert Theatre in Los Angeles was one of many memorable moments in the ceremony honoring performers and non-performers alike.

The crowd made a happy birthday video for Carole King, saluted husband-and-wife songwriters Marilyn and Alan Bergman on their 55th anniversary, and swooned as Charlie Haden paid tribute to his wife and family.

Shankar, singer-songwriter King and jazz bassist Haden were honored with lifetime achievement awards along with classical pianist Glenn Gould, who made his final public performance in the same theatre, blues guitarist Lightnin’ Hopkins, The Temptations and pop singer Patti Page, who like Shankar passed away in the last two months.

Special merit awards also were handed out to non-performers. Chess Records founders Philip and Leonard Chess, husband-and-wife songwriters Marilyn and Alan Bergman, and former Capitol Records executive Alan Livingston won the Trustees Award given to non-performers. And MIDI developers Ikutaro Kakehashi and Dave Smith and ribbon microphone manufacturer Royer Labs won technical Grammys.

Haden noted the importance of his family in his acceptance speech.

“I thank my brother Jim for letting me listen to his jazz records,” Haden said. “I heard Charlie Parker and that changed my life forever.”

For King, it was James Taylor who sent her down a new path. She noted in her video message he forced her to get up and sing one of her own songs in concert when she really didn’t see herself as a performer: “I guess he was right.”

The Bergmans, who wrote “The Way We Were,” turned in a romantic acceptance speech, adding another special moment to a partnership that produced some of our most well-known songs.

“I just want to say this in public: I’m married to the most remarkable woman in the world,” Alan Bergman said.

“Oh, cut it out,” Marilyn Berman responded.

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