Winehouse rules Grammys, but Hancock shocks

Sun Feb 10, 2008 11:57pm EST
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By Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - British pop singer Amy Winehouse, whose rapid descent from promising newcomer to emaciated junkie played out in the full glare of the public eye last year, took home five Grammy Awards on Sunday.

But jazz veteran Herbie Hancock was the shock winner of the coveted album of the year award, preventing Winehouse from enjoying a historic clean sweep.

Winehouse, 24, did win the key awards for record and song of the year for her hit tune "Rehab," as well as best new artist. Her haul was rounded out by the female pop vocal solo performance for "Rehab," and pop vocal album for "Back to Black," her breakthrough release.

Hip-hop star Kanye West, 30, who led all Grammy contenders with eight nominations, ended up with four awards. He was hoping for his first album of the year win, after losing with his two previous releases.

Yet it was Hancock who claimed the best album Grammy for "River: The Joni Letters," a tribute to Canadian singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell. He also won the contemporary jazz album Grammy, bringing his career haul to 12. Virtually no one among the Grammy pundits had expected him to take the big prize. Even his nomination was a surprise.

"What a beautiful day this is in Los Angeles," Hancock said, as he took the stage at the Staples Center to pick up the album of the year award. "Joni Mitchell, Joni Mitchell, Joni Mitchell, thank you so much."

He said it was 43 years since a jazz artist won the album of the year award: Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto's "Getz/Gilberto."

Mitchell, coincidentally, won a pop instrumental Grammy for "One Week Last Summer."   Continued...

<p>Kanye West performs "Stronger" at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards held in Los Angeles, California February 10, 2008. REUTERS/Mike Blake</p>