The Grammy Awards paid tribute to Etta James at the beginning of Sunday’s (Feb. 12) show — and that was apparently enough, because James was not part of the “In Memoriam” montage in the final hour of the show.
Ditto for “Soul Train” creator Don Cornelius and hip-hop pioneer Gil Scott-Heron. Both men were mentioned at other points in the show but not in the video montage, and that seemed to be the M.O. throughout the show — people who had passed in the previous 12 months and had moments elsewhere in the show weren’t in the montage. (One exception was Whitney Houston, who died Saturday and was mentioned throughout the night. She was the final slide in the “In Memoriam” video.)
Other names that didn’t make the tribute (that we noticed, anyway) were Mike Starr of Alice in Chains, Warrant singer Jani Lane and frequent Frank Zappa collaborator Jim Sherwood.
We should note, however, that the recording academy didn’t simply forget these people. The academy’s web site has a “We Will Remember You” page that lists a couple hundred people the music industry lost in the past year; had they all been included in the montage, it could have lasted a very long time. Instead it seems the academy chose to spotlight a mix of performers from various genres and behind-the-scenes people.
You can argue with the selection of people in the televised tribute, but because of the online list, we don’t feel like anyone was completely overlooked.