Prince and Beyonce at the GRAMMYs

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WCBS-FM's Top 5 Rock & Roll GRAMMYs Moments

February 6, 2019

By Mario McKellop

On February 10, 2019, the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards will air on CBS. And while the broadcast will include performances from 15 different recording artists, the program will be light on rock ‘n’ roll. The Red Hot Chili Peppers are the only rock group on the bill and they are set to perform with rapper Post Malone.

That said, now is a great time to look back upon some of the greatest rock performances ever to grace the GRAMMY Awards’ stage.

See Also: WCBS-FM DJs Look Back At Their Favorite GRAMMYs Memories

5. Chuck Berry, Stevie Ray Vaughan and George Thorogood, “Maybellene/Roll Over Beethoven” (1984)

During the 1984 show, iconic singer-songwriter Chuck Berry was presented with the GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award. To commemorate the moment, Berry, who could still do a mean duck walk at age 58, performed his classic hits “Maybellene” and “Roll Over Beethoven.” Berry was amazing enough on his own, but what put this performance over the top was that he was joined on stage by two of the greatest guitars of their eras, Stevie Ray Vaughan and George Thurgood. Truly, this rock music at its most electric.

4. Elvis Costello, Dave Grohl, Bruce Springsteen and Steven Van Zandt, “London Calling” (2003)

Although well-intentioned, Grammy in memoriam tributes tends to be hit or miss. All too often the Recording Academy will pair performers and dearly departed stars in a way that makes no sense musically. However, the Academy did late Clash frontman Joe Strummer right at the 45th Annual GRAMMY Awards. By bringing together the murder’s row of Elvis Costello, Dave Grohl, Bruce Springsteen and Steven Van Zandt, the organization ensured that the leader of The Only Band That Matters received a proper sendoff.

3. Metallica, “One” (1989)

The 31st Annual GRAMMY Awards is one of the most memorable events in the program’s history, but not for the right reason. Bafflingly, progressive rock group Jethro Tull won the first GRAMMY Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Vocal or Instrumental, beating Iggy Pop, Jane’s Addiction, AC/DC and Metallica. The resultant backlash to that misclassification led to the award being retired. However, while that blunder is truly spectacular, the show should be best remembered for the furious, uncompromising performance of “One” given by an in-their-prime Metallica.

2. Eric Clapton, “Tears in Heaven” (1993)

Generally, the best GRAMMY performances are bombastic affairs that manage to not only fully engage the audience of stars in attendance, but also the viewers at home. However, there are a few subdued performances that are just as powerful, none more so than Eric Clapton’s quietly devastating rendition of “Tears in Heaven” at the 35th Annual GRAMMY Awards. In addition to being one of all-time great GRAMMY performances, Clapton’s ode to his recently deceased four-year-old son Conor was also one of the most affecting.

1. Prince and Beyoncé “Purple Rain/Baby I’m a Star/Crazy in Love/Let’s Go Crazy” (2004)

Although the Purple One racked up 10 GRAMMY Awards over the course of his five-decade career, Price only performed on the GRAMMYs’ stage twice. And though his 1985 performance of “Baby I’m Star” is amazing, his show opening medley with Beyoncé at the 46th Annual GRAMMY Awards edges it out. Not only did it give Prince a platform to make his case for being in the conversation of the greatest guitarists of all time, but it also showed off the timeless of his music.

Take a look at some of our WCBS-FM DJs favorite GRAMMYs memories from award shows past (like that time Dan Taylor was the ANNOUNCER!)