PBS’ ‘Great Performances’ salutes Queen, John Williams and more
It’s one thing to win a Grammy Award, and another to be a “Music Legend” saluted by the Grammys.
Recorded in July at Los Angeles’ Dolby Theatre, the annual concert for recipients of Special Merit Awards will be presented as a PBS “Great Performances” offering Friday, Oct. 5 (check local listings). Among those feted during the show are Lifetime Achievement Award honorees Neil Diamond, Tina Turner, Queen and the Meters. Composer-conductor John Williams also is celebrated in a year when other winners of career-commemorating Grammys include Emmylou Harris and the late rock-concert promoter Bill Graham.
The Diamond segment’s appropriate host is Micky Dolenz, who – as a member of the Monkees – scored one of his biggest hits with the Diamond-written “I’m a Believer.” Though he announced last January that he would stop touring because of his Parkinson’s diagnosis, “Cracklin’ Rosie” and “Sweet Caroline” hitmaker Diamond isn’t leaving music entirely. He proved that in July by staging an impromptu acoustic concert for firefighters and their families near his Colorado home.
Also fittingly, Angela Bassett is involved in the presentation to Turner, whom the actress portrayed in an Oscar-nominated performance in the 1993 movie “What’s Love Got to Do With It.” The famously dynamic Turner is about to publish her second memoir (“Tina Turner: My Love Story”), and a stage production about her life and career opened in London’s West End earlier this year.
Queen’s musical relevancy is about to be reaffirmed with the upcoming release of the drama movie “Bohemian Rhapsody,” in which “Mr. Robot” Emmy winner Rami Malek plays lead singer Freddie Mercury. Band members Brian May and Roger Taylor are among the producers of the film.
Williams and Graham are among those who receive this year’s Trustee Awards from the Recording Academy, with Sammy Hagar taking part in the Graham tribute, while Trisha Yearwood helps to honor Harris for the latter’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Veteran trumpeter and music producer Herb Alpert also appears in a career salute to legendary Wrecking Crew drummer Hal Blaine, who played with Alpert and the Tijuana Brass on their mid-1960s classic “A Taste of Honey.”
Musician and songwriter Louis Jordan and the New Orleans-bred Meters funk band also receive lifetime awards, but encompassed as well by the “Grammy Salute to Music Legends” are several people who may not be household names, but have made major contributions to music. Among them: industry executive Seymour Stein, audio-effects masters Tony Agnello and Richard Factor, and Music Educator honoree Melissa Salguero of P.S. 48 in Bronx, N.Y.
Music continues to write its history every year, but once again, the “Grammy Salute to Music Legends” provides a worthy pause to showcase several of its most notable authors.