Bruce Springsteen and other music stars paid tribute to rocker Jon Bon Jovi on Friday at an annual pre-Grammys fundraiser, putting their spin on hits such as Blaze of Glory from the singer’s extensive rock catalogue. Bon Jovi founded a band of the same name in 1983 in New Jersey and helped define the guitar-heavy rock of the 1980s.
The 61-year-old was chosen as this year’s Person of the Year by MusiCares, a charitable arm of the Recording Academy that raises funds to help musicians with health care and other needs. Springsteen, also from New Jersey, joined Bon Jovi on stage in downtown Los Angeles for Who Says You Can’t Go Home? Both played the guitar and sang.
In the audience, former Beatle Paul McCartney stood and clapped his hands above his head. Springsteen’s mother, Adele Springsteen, died on Wednesday at age 98. Bon Jovi said he would have understood if Springsteen, who he called a friend and mentor, had canceled his appearance.
“But he wanted to be here tonight for MusiCares, and he wanted to be here tonight for me, and I’m forever grateful,” Bon Jovi said. He also talked about the importance of music in his life. “Every time I strum my guitar, I’m reminded that I have a best friend for life. That instrument will never let you down,” he said.
During a three-hour tribute, fellow ’80s rocker Sammy Hagar belted You Give Love a Bad Name, folk-rock musician Melissa Etheridge sang Blaze of Glory and singer-songwriter Jason Isbell performed Wanted Dead or Alive. Other performers included country singer Jelly Roll and husband-and-wife duo The War and Treaty, two acts competing for best new artist at Sunday’s Grammys.
Bon Jovi applauded the performances and laughed at jabs from host Jim Gaffigan about the singer’s big hair and over-the-top clothing of the 1980s. Gaffigan joked that Bon Jovi and his band looked like “a gang of aerobics instructors” at the time. The night ended with the all-star lineup gathering on stage with Bon Jovi for rock anthem Livin’ On a Prayer.
MusiCares said it honoured Bon Jovi for his musical achievements as well as his philanthropic work. The musician established the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation to fight hunger, poverty and homelessness. “It’s humbling,” Bon Jovi told Reuters ahead of Friday’s event. “I’m touched to be even mentioned in that group of people who have received this before.” Past MusiCares honorees have included Joni Mitchell, Dolly Parton, Tony Bennett, Billy Joel and Fleetwood Mac.
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