LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Grammy Awards was a night to honor mentors on Sunday, as everyone from teen idol Justin Bieber to rock icon Mick Jagger paid tribute to artists who helped mold their careers.
The on-stage tributes on the recording industry’s biggest night were part of an effort by Grammy producers to bridge the gap between young and old, and bring in several generations of TV viewers.
Bieber, the 16 year-old Canadian who inspires fanaticism in young followers, sang “OMG” with Usher, the R&B singer and music executive who discovered him.
The audience also watched a video showing an even younger Bieber auditioning for Usher.
Usher, 32, said he was disappointed Bieber lost the best new artist Grammy to jazz prodigy Esperanza Spalding. But he said that he expects great things from the pop idol who has ridden to fame with the bubble gum crowd, on the strength of hit songs like “Baby” and “U Smile.”
“His musical journey is part of his story, and as he gets older, he’ll tell it,” Usher said.
Bieber said that Usher has taught him a lot since he first auditioned for him three years ago. “We just rehearsed the past week for this, and he just helped me a lot,” Bieber said.
Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger performed for the first time on the Grammy stage on Sunday, singing to honor the late Solomon Burke, a soul legend whose gospel and country-rooted delivery influenced Jagger early in his career.
Jagger sang “Everybody Needs Someone to Love,” a 1960s song co-written and recorded by Burke before the Rolling Stones covered it. After a long battle with weight problems, Burke died in October at age 69.
Rap star Eminem, riding a comeback wave with his hit album “Recovery,” took the stage with a superstar who helped shape his career when he performed “I Need a Doctor” with Dr. Dre.
Rap icon Dr. Dre, appearing on live television for the first time in over a decade, helped produce Eminem’s 1999 hit album “The Slim Shady LP” and gave the white Detroit rapper respect in the mostly black world of hip-hop.
The Grammy Awards on Sunday also saw performances that tied together styles from decades past with rising stars.
Bruno Mars, 25, and a group of backup singers performed his hit tune “Grenade” in a throwback style reminiscent of Motown groups from the 1960s heyday of soul.
Hippie-era icon Bob Dylan, 69, sang his “Maggie’s Farm” backed by Mumford & Sons and The Avett Brothers, two rising star bands that, like Dylan, draw inspiration from folk music.
It was not just freshfaced singers like Bieber who gained success with the help of an elder.
Willie “Big Eyes” Smith told reporters he first met blues master Pinetop Perkins when he was 7 years-old. Now Smith is 75 and Perkins is 97. On Sunday, they won for best traditional blues album for their release “Joined at the Hip,” giving Smith his first ever Grammy.
“To tell you the truth, right now I‘m one of the happiest men on earth,” Smith said.
Editing by Jill Serjeant