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When it comes to pre-Grammy parties, nobody does them quite like Clive Davis. The seasoned music industry veteran, now the chief creative officer of Sony Music, has been throwing a Saturday night gala since 1976, when the big Grammy names of the day were John Denver and Barry Manilow.
Over the years, the guest list has gotten longer as have Davis’ trademark acknowledgments, where he points to the luminaries in the room and thanks them for their contributions to music. Among the gala’s regulars: Jay-Z, Bill Maher, Diana Ross, Alicia Keys, Usher, Will.I.Am, Jennifer Hudson and scores more who Davis has either mentored, worked with or shamed by virtue of his decades-long success, Then there are the performances by music’s brightest stars, from the Sony Music canon and beyond.
How late will the fete go this year? Past midnight is a given, but are we talking 1 a.m. or past 2? Davis chuckles when asked about it at a Thursday rehearsal. “We don’t intend to do it,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “We are much more disciplined now and are going to start promptly at 9:30 p.m.”
Of course, one has to keep in mind that the later the party goes, the more talent has taken the stage. For example, Davis explains: “If you are tributing Stevie Wonder and he’s supposed to come up and sing one song but decides to sing six or seven songs, there’s no one leaving. If it goes extremely late, then it’s based on the fact that everyone is having a good time and they don’t want to go home. It’s a Saturday night, Sunday is not a workday.”
We beg to differ since the Grammy Awards go down on Sunday, but we understand Davis’ point. As for who’s on deck for 2012? The party — now co-hosted by the Recording Academy and dubbed “salute to industry heroes” — will honor Sir Richard Branson, while Brandy and Monica are slated to perform their new single, “It All Belongs to Me.”
The R&B singers are riding a reprise of buzz from 1998 when their duet, “The Boy Is Mine,” hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 (all under Davis’ watch). Why now? “Comfortability in who we are,” Monica told THR at a rehearsal on Thursday. “Love of music, love of our children, having so many things in common brought us full circle,” she said. Added Brandy: “And the song was so special. This is truly a blessing.”
The Kinks’ Ray Davies was also heard at the Beverly Hilton rehearsing a medley of classics that include “Lola” and “You Really Got Me,” while Whitney Houston, whom Davis discovered, was spotted in the hotel’s lobby. Other guests expected to show include Cee Lo Green, David Guetta, Elvis Costello, Jackson Browne, Sir Howard Stringer, Doug Morris, Jimmy Iovine, L.A. Reid, Britney Spears, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, Sean Parker and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
It all kicks off with cocktails at 7 p.m. at the Beverly Hilton. Black tie is encouraged, last-minute guest list requests are not. Check back here tomorrow for a full recap.
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