Phil Everly, one-half of the GRAMMY-nominated vocal duo the Everly Brothers, died Jan. 3 following complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He was 74. Phil Everly and brother Don Everly emerged in the late '50s and became one of the most important vocal duos of the rock era, achieving 15 Top 10 singles, including the No. 1 hits "All I Have To Do Is Dream" and "Bird Dog," both of which garnered GRAMMY nominations for Best Country & Western Performance at the 1st Annual GRAMMY Awards in 1958. "All I Have To Do Is Dream" was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame in 2004. Their first single, 1957's "Bye Bye Love," was inducted in 1998. In 1997 the Everly Brothers were honored with a Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award. The Everlys' tight vocal harmonies influenced such acts as the Beach Boys, the Beatles and the Byrds, and as recently as November 2013, GRAMMY winners Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day and Norah Jones teamed to record Foreverly, a tribute to the Everly Brothers' 1958 album Songs Our Daddy Taught Us.
The latest performers for the 56th GRAMMY Awards are seven-time GRAMMY winner Madonna; nominees Billie Joe Armstrong (of Green Day) and Miranda Lambert in a special In Memoriam tribute to Phil Everly; and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue. Actor Steve Coogan, actor Jeremy Renner, Academy Award winner Julia Roberts, and current nominee Charlie Wilson are set to present.
Five-time GRAMMY winner Armstrong and GRAMMY winner Lambert each have a nomination: Armstrong is nominated for Best Music Film (as a member of Green Day) for ¡Cuatro!; Lambert has a nod in Best Country Solo Performance for "Mama's Broken Heart."
Previously announced performers are current nominee Sara Bareilles together with four-time GRAMMY winner and 2014 MusiCares Person of the Year Carole King; nominee Gary Clark Jr.; nominees Daft Punk with nominee Nile Rodgers (of Chic), nominee Pharrell Williams, and 25-time GRAMMY winner Stevie Wonder; nominee Hunter Hayes; nominee Kendrick Lamar joined by nominees Imagine Dragons; nominee John Legend; nominee Lorde; nominees Macklemore & Ryan Lewis; eight-time GRAMMY-winning group Metallica and GRAMMY Cultural Ambassador to China Lang Lang performing together; nominee and 2014 Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient (as a member of the Beatles) Paul McCartney; nominee Kacey Musgraves; nominee Katy Perry; nominees P!nk and Nate Ruess (of Fun.); nine-time GRAMMY winner and 2014 Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient (as a member of the Beatles) Ringo Starr; nominee Robin Thicke and GRAMMY-winning group Chicago (whose debut album was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame this year); nominee Taylor Swift; nominee Keith Urban; a special performance featuring Merle Haggard, 2014 Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, and nominee Blake Shelton; and a rousing rock collaboration featuring nominees Nine Inch Nails, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Dave Grohl, joined by GRAMMY winner Lindsey Buckingham. Also performing with Daft Punk are the RAM (Random Access Memories) session players: Chris Caswell, Nathan East, Omar Hakim, and Paul Jackson Jr.
Previously announced presenters are current nominee Marc Anthony; nominees Black Sabbath; three-time GRAMMY winner Zac Brown; nominee Gloria Estefan; actor Anna Faris; GRAMMY and Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx; singer/songwriter and actor Ariana Grande; four-time Emmy-winning actor Neil Patrick Harris; GRAMMY winner Olivia Harrison; actor Anna Kendrick; nominee Alicia Keys; two-time GRAMMY and 19-time Latin GRAMMY winner Juanes; nominee Cyndi Lauper; singer/songwriter and actor Jared Leto; nominee Bruno Mars; country singer/songwriter Martina McBride; nominee Miguel; two-time GRAMMY winner Yoko Ono; GRAMMY winner Smokey Robinson; TV and radio host/producer (as well as Honorary Chair of the GRAMMY Foundation Board) Ryan Seacrest; and four-time GRAMMY winner Steven Tyler. Two-time GRAMMY winner LL Cool J returns as host of Music's Biggest Night.
The 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards are produced by AEG Ehrlich Ventures for The Recording Academy. Ken Ehrlich is executive producer, Louis J. Horvitz is director, and David Wild and Ehrlich are the writers.
Music's Biggest Night will take place live on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014, at Staples Center in Los Angeles and will be broadcast in high-definition TV and 5.1 surround sound on the CBS Television Network from 8–11:30 p.m. (ET/PT). The telecast also will be supported on radio worldwide via WestwoodOne, and covered online at GRAMMY.com and CBS.com.
With 14 GRAMMYs between them, no one saw this coming: Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones have teamed for Foreverly, a duet album that doubles as a tribute to the Everly Brothers.
And it's not simply a rundown of Everly Brothers hits. Foreverly is a tribute to a lesser-known album in the Everly Brothers catalog, Songs Our Daddy Taught Us, which was released in 1958 as the duo were breaking into the mainstream with such hits as "Bye Bye Love" and "Wake Up Little Susie." Songs Our Daddy Taught Us, while still brimming with Phil and Don Everly's crisp, inimitable harmonies, was filled with dark, traditional tunes that were the antithesis of the duo's more popular fare.
Released Nov. 25, Foreverly features all 12 tracks on the original album, including the single "Long Time Gone," which showcases the album's retro-style arrangements and the unlikely yet pleasant pairing of Armstrong and Jones' voices.
In an exclusive GRAMMY.com interview, Armstrong and Jones discussed the genesis of Foreverly, the dark lyrical nature of the original songs and fond memories of their respective GRAMMY histories.
What's the story behind Foreverly?
Billie Joe Armstrong: I just fell in love with the record [the Everly Brothers' Songs Our Daddy Taught Us]. The first time I heard it, I didn't know that they had made this record in the middle of a string of pop hits that they had in the '50s, and I love that stuff. And I loved the harmonies and started getting into the stories and how dark they are, and the old traditional songs that they were singing. I love digging deep as far as music history [and] rock and roll and folk and the blues and stuff. And when I heard the song "Oh So Many Years," I thought, "Man, it would be cool to do the whole album with a girl." My wife recommended Norah, and I thought it was a great idea.
Norah Jones: He called me and he really wanted to do this project — I guess he had it in mind for a while, but I was just off tour, so I was really tired. You know, a whole album is different than just committing to doing a song with somebody. So he kind of talked me into it, because I love the Everly Brothers, I love this kind of music. I love close harmonies. I was a little bit tired and not really ready to jump into a whole thing, but these are the kind of songs I love singing and they just kind of sing themselves, you know?
There really isn't anything really difficult or hard to them. So we agreed to go into the studio for just a couple days, and we ended up doing five days just to try it out — no pressure, and if it didn't work, it didn't work. We never really had sung together. Who knew if it would gel?
And when did it gel?
Jones: It took us a minute to find each other and sing well together. It happened pretty quickly, but there was definitely a tiny learning curve for us with each other. We just had to learn how to look at each other and follow each other's phrasing.
Armstrong: I think it happened when we did "Long Time Gone." That's when [we said], "Man, that sounds beautiful." We were so excited by it that Norah taught me how to two-step a little bit. It was just a great moment.
Norah, were you familiar with Songs Our Daddy Taught Us?
Jones: I was a big Everly Brothers fan my whole life, but I didn't really know this particular album that well. I knew a couple of songs off of it, so when I got the email from Billie Joe that he wanted to do this, I checked out the album before we talked on the phone. I love the album, and I love that it's old, old, old songs. And I love that it's not their hits or anything. It made it easier to reinterpret these old kind of folk songs, especially since it's just a stripped-down album. There's a lot of room to play around with the arrangements, which is nice. Although we were obviously doing their album, it wasn't like we were trying to copy them, which would be pointless.
Songs like "Lightning Express" and "I'm Here To Get My Baby Out Of Jail" have pretty dark overtones.
Jones: These are real story songs and the lyrics are pretty heavy. … When we got into the songs, it was, "Wow, some of these are so dark!" We had a lot of fun in the studio. The vibe was really silly and we were goofin' off, all of us, but the songs are really heavy, and we'd think, "God, can you imagine? This is a real story." It was fun to bring the darkness out of the songs and play that up even more in the arrangements.
Armstrong: That's my favorite part. They're just old songs about mourning and loss and lost love and kids dying of consumption. I think it's a lot about poor people and working-class people, and the one way people can unite and grieve on is something in song. That's the one thing traditionally in America that we've had, because God knows, we can't have health care. [laughs] At least we've got songs.
Do you have an album favorite?
Armstrong: Today it's "Lightning Express." Tomorrow, it'll probably be something else.
Jones: "Long Time Gone." It's my favorite off the Everly Brothers' record and it's my favorite of our versions, too. It's less of a family death song and more of a cheated-me song, which I always love, but the melody is pretty special and the chorus — there's a lot of dissonance in the harmonies that I love.
Norah, you won your first five GRAMMYs for Come Away With Me at the 45th GRAMMY Awards in 2003. Do you remember that GRAMMY night?
Jones: Oh wow, you're going way back. I remember I was starving because there was no food anywhere. I was so hungry, and I couldn't believe that there was no food backstage. I was just ready to go party and eat. It was fun — a really crazy night. I'll never forget that cheeseburger I had after it was all over.
Last year, you accepted a Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award for your late father Ravi Shankar with your sister Anoushka Shankar.
Jones: It was nice to be there with my sister. It was really nice and special — he knew about it before he died. Had he been alive, he would have been able to be there. So it was kind of bittersweet, for sure. But I'm glad he got a chance to know about it before he died.
Billie Joe, you've won five GRAMMY Awards with Green Day. Which do you treasure most?
Armstrong: I think when we got Best Rock [Album] for 21st Century Breakdown [at the 52nd GRAMMY Awards in 2010]. That was a pretty grueling record to make, and right now, it's kind of standing out as my favorite Green Day record.
(Nick Krewen is a Toronto-based journalist and co-author of Music From Far And Wide: Celebrating 40 Years Of The Juno Awards, as well as a contributor to The Routledge Film Music Sourcebook. He has written for The Toronto Star, TV Guide, Billboard, Country Music and was a consultant for the National Film Board's music industry documentary Dream Machine.)
In keeping with its ongoing dedication to preserving and celebrating timeless recordings, The Recording Academy has announced the 25 newest additions to its GRAMMY Hall Of Fame. This year's collection acknowledges a diverse range of both singles and album recordings at least 25 years old that exhibit qualitative or historical significance. Each year recordings are reviewed by a special member committee comprised of eminent and knowledgeable professionals from all branches of the recording arts, with final approval by The Recording Academy's National Board of Trustees. The Hall, now in its 44th year, currently totals 1,038 recordings.
List of 2017 GRAMMY Hall Of Fame recordings
"The GRAMMY Hall Of Fame represents all genres of music, acknowledging the diversity of musical expression for which The Academy has become renowned," said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy. "Memorable and inspiring, these recordings are proudly added to our growing catalog and are an integral part of our musical, social and cultural history."
Representing an array of tracks and albums, the 2017 GRAMMY Hall Of Fame inductees range from the Jackson 5's "ABC" to N.W.A's Straight Outta Compton. The list also features David Bowie's "Changes," Elvis Presley's "Jailhouse Rock," Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," Billie Holiday's Lady Sings The Blues, Prince's Sign "O" The Times, Merle Haggard's Okie From Muskogee, and the Beach Boys' "I Get Around." Other inductees include recordings by Louis Armstrong And His Orchestra, Cab Calloway And His Orchestra, Deep Purple, Dion, the Everly Brothers, Lesley Gore, Arlo Guthrie, Mississippi John Hurt, Blind Willie McTell, Mills Brothers, Bonnie Raitt, R.E.M., Lalo Schifrin, Sly & The Family Stone, Sonny & Cher, and Rod Stewart.
The 59th Annual GRAMMY Awards will take place on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2017, at Staples Center in Los Angeles and will be broadcast live on CBS from 8–11:30 p.m. (ET/PT). For updates and breaking news, visit The Recording Academy's social networks on Twitter and Facebook.
What can we learn from an artist's first album? In the case of singer/songwriter Elvis Costello, as it turns out, quite a bit.
He recorded his debut album, My Aim Is True, for a cost of £2,000 in only 24 hours, leveraging his sick days and holidays from his job as a computer operator. On paper, it was not an auspicious start.
My Aim Is True arrived in 1977 while music was in the midst of a punk-rock revolution courtesy of the Clash, Sex Pistols, and Ramones, but Costello borrowed from a different wellspring.
The son of a musician, the Englishman poured more material into his debut than his pigeonholed "new wave" label could hold, and he's spent the next 40 years revealing the seemingly endless depth of influence his music has conjured.
By 2007, My Aim Is True was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame in recognition of its standing as one of rock and roll's greatest recordings.
With that in mind, and in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the classic album's original U.K. release, here are five moments on My Aim Is True — and select tracks left from its cutting-room floor — that set the tone for Costello's prolific career.
The first 14 seconds of pleasure in "Welcome To The Working Week"
In the first line of the first song of his first album, Costello came out swinging with a crafty musical and irreverent lyrical phrase that landed a stiff punch: "Now that your picture's in the paper being rhythmically admired/And you can have anyone that you have ever desired."
The dreamlike reverie album opening paints a crude picture of fame and privilege before jolting it all back into the blue-collar worker's harsh reality.
Just 14 seconds into "Welcome To The Working Week," Costello demonstrates the genius and snarl he's capable of: a gorgeous key-borrowing modulation (tossing in a "II major" chord for those theory types keeping score at home) under a sly, taboo lyrical reference turned into a snarl of "why, why, why, why."
Costello would incorporate these devices in many of his greatest songs throughout his career, from the delicately intricate "Almost Blue" to the venomous "20% Amnesia" and everywhere in between.
A dark take on tenderness in "Alison"
The lone ballad on an album known for its wound-up velocity, "Alison" has somewhat ironically become My Aim Is True's most enduring song.
In both construction and execution, "Alison" is as unsettling as it is graceful. The song provided a glimpse of Costello's harmonic touch, lucid vocal delivery and artistic range that teased a bevy of beautiful ballads to come, including "Shipbuilding, "Favourite Hour" and "I Want To Vanish," each with its own searing streak of darkness.
While "Alison" never charted for Costello, it did for Linda Ronstadt, who recorded a trifecta of Costello songs for her 1980 album, Mad Love, including "Girls Talk," "Party Girl" and "Talking In The Dark." Over the years, he's would also be covered by Aimee Mann, Johnny Cash, Fiona Apple, and his wife, Diana Krall, to name a few.
Calling Mr. Oswald on "Less Than Zero"
At 22 years old, Costello demonstrated a sharp social consciousness. "Less Than Zero" took on a former British fascist leader, Oswald Mosley, who had re-emerged in British media to try and clear his name. According to Costello, "The song was more of a slandering fantasy than a reasoned argument."
But the track's passion and anger were very real. "Less Than Zero" itself became a pawn in a different sort of protest match when Costello lashed out against the imposed constraints of corporate controlled broadcasting, stopping a performance of the song mid-verse on live TV in favor of a blistering version of another statement song, "Radio Radio." The stunt resulted in a ban from "Saturday Night Live," the show where the whole fiasco went down.
Sinister imagery and the genius of Steve Nieve on "Watching The Detectives"
Although not included in the original album release in the U.K., "Watching The Detectives" was added to the U.S. release of My Aim Is True. Producer Nick Lowe, an influential artist/songwriter in his own right, went with a different rhythm section for "… Detectives," calling upon the aptly named young classical keyboardist, Steve Nieve.
The signature organ parts and eerie sounds Nieve added to the song were tip of the iceberg to the dressing he lavished on subsequent Costello numbers such as "Shot With His Own Gun" and the mad and moody masterpiece, "I Want You."
In his GRAMMY-nominated 2015 autobiography, Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink, Costello attributed the inspiration for "… Detectives" to a cinematic influence: the noir films based on Raymond Chandler stories, especially 1944's Double Indemnity.
"The shorthand of cinematic directions in 'Watching The Detectives' lyrics came pretty easily after memorizing all those films," Costello explains.
The country song that didn't make the album, but surfaced later
One of only three outtakes from the My Aim Is True sessions, "Stranger In the House" never had a chance at making the cut. According to the Costello-penned liner notes for the album's 1993 Rykodisc re-release, "The inclusion of a 'country song' was thought to be commercial suicide in 1977."
But the echoes of "Stranger …" refused to fade. Costello's country hero, George Jones, recorded a cover in 1979, on which Costello guested. Costello's version of the song appeared later on a 1980 B-sides collection, Ten Bloody Marys & Ten How's Your Fathers.
Costello's knack for collaboration and genre dexterity have served him well throughout his career, as he recorded full albums with a variety of musicians and styles, including classically trained mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter, R&B legend Allen Toussaint and songwriting mastermind Burt Bacharach. (Not to mention the fabled co-writing he did with Paul McCartney).