East Coast Rocker

Putting You in the Front Row

A Peek Behind The Scenes of Music’s Biggest Night – What You Didn’t See on GRAMMY CBS Show

Rock Star Tech Experts Are GRAMMYs Unsung Heroes


Another chapter of “Music’s Biggest Night,” the 59th GRAMMY® Awards is now in the bag.

For the first time, James Corden hosted the show. Many on social media voiced an opinion as to
 whether the proper artists were acknowledged with the GRAMMY gold.

More than 400 microphones of all price ranges and 'blinginess' are carefully set up - Photo courtesy The Recording Academy

More than 400 microphones of all price ranges and ‘blinginess’ are carefully set up – Photo courtesy The Recording Academy

As this is a peer-voted 
award, the artists in the trenches are the ones making the selections.
 There is, however, an unsung hero in the game. The “machine” that creates and puts on the GRAMMY Awards telecast is a team of dedicated tech veterans.

It is the most complex audio production in television.
 I was privileged to get a peek at the backstage setup prior to the show, and no matter how many 
live production events I have witnessed, this is an amazing sight to see. The construction for the 
massive sets used in the show actually begins mid-December.

The Staples Center is where the magic takes place and has been home to this awards show for
 12 of the last 13 years. In order to host “Music’s Biggest Night,” the stadium must 
undergo a tremendous transformation.
 For six days, a crew of 36 riggers loads in all the gear that is required for 21 different setups that 
are used to perform 29 separate songs.

GRAMMY Awards’ Elaborate System

There are so many moving parts to create this elaborate 
system. The staff begins with the hanging of 157 tons of lighting, sound, and set pieces from the 
ceiling of The Staples Center before the three days of rehearsals even begin. Four hundred chain 
motors are used to hoist up lighting and set pieces that hang from more than 500 points on the 
ceiling. Seventeen 53-foot tractor-trailers are utilized to bring in all this rigging.

When it is all done, 
it will take the crew 27 hours to tear it all down; a truly massive undertaking. 
As we step onto the loading dock behind Staples, there are large trucks stationed just outside. The
 rock stars inside the trucks are the ones that record and mix the entire broadcast.

Producer-engineer Glenn Lorbecki, GRAMMY Award Telecast Advisor to Music Mix Audio, and John Harris and Eric Schilling, Co-Music Mixers in the Music Mix Mobile remote recording trucks, are members of the award-winning GRAMMY telecast audio team and have been involved in their roles for several years.

As well as mixing the sound, the recordings of the rehearsals that can be used for review of the
 performance by the artists themselves to ensure that they appear as desired. Joining them was Michael Abbott, who returned as GRAMMY Audio Coordinator. As many as 150 
stagehands, 130 technicians and 18 stage managers are on hand to guarantee the ideal production.

GRAMMY Gear is Carefully Prepped

Backstage at The GRAMMY Awards is a labyrinth of intricate passageways - Photo courtesy The Recording Academy

Backstage at The GRAMMY Awards is a labyrinth of intricate passageways – Photo courtesy The Recording Academy

Backstage, there are risers and rigs everywhere that are all preset with the gear required for the 
performances. We see drum sets being shined and mic’d. Platforms are being built and what 
appears to be seating for orchestral performances is put into place. Costumes and make-up 
mirrors seem to line up at attention.

Setups labeled “Lady Gaga and Metallica” and “Daft Punk 
and The Weeknd” are ogled as we imagine what that performance will look like. This gear is all 
preset on individual platforms and then wheeled onto stage “as is” when needed, and placed into
 position by the phenomenal crew.

We then stroll up to a long table filled with many different microphones. More than 400 mics are 
needed to cover the different bands and host performances. These beauties range from being fully “
blinged out” showpieces to the state-of-the-art $5,000 to $10,000 audio gems. Microphones are also 
placed all around the Staples Center to highlight and capture hot pockets of activity in the 
audience during the performances.

A peek onto the stage reveals Bruno Mars in street clothes rehearsing his set. I think everyone 
stopped breathing for just a moment. We can see that the auditorium seats are filled with placards 
with the celebrity names and photos that are used to alert the cameramen where to find the shot
 they will need.

It takes more than 3 megawatts of power to run all the lights, sound and video equipment 
needed for this show. Twenty-three projectors were used to illuminate the huge screen behind
 Adele as she opened, singing her chart-topper “Hello.” So much power is required, that additional 
generators had to be brought in.

Talented Production Team Keeps GRAMMYs Running

Drums and equipment are lined up and ready for their cue - Photo courtesy The Recording Academy

Drums and equipment are lined up and ready for their cue – Photo courtesy The Recording Academy

Eight hundred computer-controlled lights are used, as well as
 200 fixed lights and 100 strobe lights that are run by four lighting programmers to ensure a properly
 lit show.

All of that goes into the CBS broadcast. Next year, The GRAMMY Awards is rumored to be 
held in New York, giving The Staples Center a break in the long run.

While artists were on hand to offer performances and accept awards, behind the scenes there is an 
army of rock star crew members that make this all possible. A round of applause to all
 crew members who invest so many long hours to make this happen.

Marcy Kraft is a music industry expert and contributor to EastCoastRocker.com

Heard on the Red Carpet at the 56th annual Grammy Awards:

News and Notes from Music’s biggest week: For a complete list of winners go to www.grammy.com

Taylor Swift, whose appearance on the music scene is important to everyone in the music industry, accepts her first Grammy Award.

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis discuss how overwhelmed they are to perform at Grammy Awards

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis discuss how overwhelmed they are to perform at Grammy Awards – photo courtesy Grammy.com

Metallica’s Lars Ulrich tells Macklemore & Ryan Lewis — who will perform for the first time at the Grammys — to “Look at everybody, make eye contact” in order not to be nervous. “I don’t think you guys will have any issues.”—

Macklemore made a point to Grammy interviewers: “I am grateful to the Grammys for giving us the opportunity to promote against homophobia and be allies to people loving whoever they want to love.”

Ryan Lewis said, ” I remember when we made that song imaging how impactful it could be, I never imagined it would end up on this stage.”

Dave Grohl and Paul McCartney - photo courtesy of Grammy.com

Dave Grohl and Paul McCartney – photo courtesy of Grammy.com

Grohl: “Pick up a Guitar”

Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl, a supporter of music education, tells red carpet interviewers the best way to get involved in music is to “Pick up a guitar and just play.”  It doesn’t matter if it’s expensive or not and, in fact, he said, the sound doesn’t have to be perfect either. “Just play,” he said.

Getting Music into the Schools

Getting music into the schools was the theme of the National Association of Music Merchants 2014 NAMM Show, with a range of artists, managers and music merchants discussing the evolution — and the challenges — of music education.

“We have to break the barriers and get the music to the populations can benefit the most from it,” said Robin Walenta, CEO of West Music and the first woman to sit on the executive committee of NAMM.

Walenta recalled during her many years on the NAMM floor, she was often the only female and one of the few women who weren’t  “…posing as incentives” to lure customers.

The Beatles won a Lifetime Achievement Grammy this week.

The Beatles won a Lifetime Achievement Grammy this week. – Photo courtesy Grammy.com


Ringo Starr was honored with the Lifetime of Peace and Love Award from the David Lynch Foundation leading up the Grammy Awards on Sunday.

The David Lynch Foundation provides scholarships to inner city and disadvantaged youths, domestic violence victims and veterans to learn transcendental mediation.

Ringo was a Grammy winner in a special Saturday pre-Grammy event as well — one of many Grammy Awards in his collection.

Stevie Wonder stopped by NAMM - Photo by Donna Balancia

Stevie Wonder stopped by NAMM – Photo by Donna Balancia

Stevie Wonder, like many other rock stars, stopped by NAMM, hitting the keyboards in the piano section of the Anaheim Convention Center Saturday.  Fans swarmed Wonder as he said hellos and spread the love around.


Smokey Robinson accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award from NAMM in saying “It has been a real real real real blessing to do something that you love to do.

“The fans think they’re coming to see me, but I’m coming to see them.”

Some of the Winners from the 56th annual Grammy Awards

Some of the Winners from the 56th annual Grammy Awards:
— Traditional pop vocal album: “To Be Loved,” Michael Buble.

— Rap performance: “Thrift Shop,” Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz.

— Rap song: “Thrift Shop,” Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz.

— Rap album: “The Heist,” Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.

— R&B performance: “Something,” Snarky Puppy with Lalah Hathaway.

— Traditional R&B performance: “Please Come Home,” Gary Clark Jr.

— R&B song: “Pusher Love Girl,” James Fauntleroy, Jerome Harmon, Timothy Mosley and Justin Timberlake.

— R&B album: “Girl on Fire,” Alicia Keys.

— Urban contemporary album: “Unapologetic,” Rihanna.

— Rock performance: “Radioactive,” Imagine Dragons.

— Rock album: “Celebration Day,” Led Zeppelin.

— Hard rock/metal performance: “God is Dead,” Black Sabbath.

— Alternative music album: “Modern Vampires of the City,” Vampire Weekend.

— Dance recording: “Clarity,” Zedd featuring Foxes.

— Dance/electronica album: “Random Access Memories,” Daft Punk.

— Producer of the year, non-classical: Pharrell Williams.

— Latin pop album: “Vida,” Draco Rosa

— Latin rock, urban or alternative album: “Treinta Dias,” La Santa Cecilia.

— Latin jazz album: “Song for Maura,” Paquito D’Rivera and Trio Corrente.

— Tropical Latin album: “Pacific Mambo Orchestra,” Pacific Mambo Orchestra.

— Country solo performance: “Wagon Wheel,” Darius Rucker.

— Country duo/group performance: “From This Valley,” The Civil Wars.

— Country song: “Merry Go ‘Round,” Kacey Musgraves, Shane McAnally and Josh Osbourne.

— Gospel song: “If He Did It Before … Same God (Live),” Tye Tribbett

— Gospel album: “Greater Than (Live),” Tye Tribbettlatin

— Blues album: “Get Up!,” Ben Harper with Charlie Musselwhite.

— Folk album: “My Favorite Picture of You,” Guy Clark.

— Americana album: “Old Yellow Moon,” Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell.

— Bluegrass album: “The Streets of Baltimore,” Del McCoury Band.

— Reggae album: “Ziggy Marley in Concert,” Ziggy Marley.

— World music album: “Live: Singing for Peace Around the World,” Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and “Savor Flamenco,” Gypsy Kings (tie).

— Children’s album: “Throw a Penny in the Wishing Well,” Jennifer Gasoi.

— Spoken word album: “America Again: Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t,” Stephen Colbert.

— Comedy album: “Calm Down Gurrl,” Kathy Griffin.

— New age album: “Love’s River,” Laura Sullivan.

— Jazz vocal album: “Liquid Spirit,” Gregory Porter.

— Jazz instrumental album: “Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue,” Terri Lyne Carrington.

— Large jazz ensemble album: “Night in Calisia,” Randy Brecker, Wlodek Pawlik Trio and Kalisz Philharmonic.

— Pop instrumental album: “Steppin’ Out,” Herb Alpert.

— Compilation soundtrack album: “Sound City: Real to Reel,” Dave Grohl and various artists, Butch Vig.

— Score soundtrack album: “Skyfall,” Thomas Newman, composer.

— Song written for visual media: “Skyfall,” Adele and Paul Epworth.

— Musical theater album: “Kinky Boots,” Cyndi Lauper, Billy Porter, Stark Sands, Sammy James Jr., Stephen Oremus and William Wittman.

— Producer of the year, classical: David Frost.

— Instrumental composition: “Pensamientos for Solo Alto Saxophone and Chamber Orechestra,” Clare Fischer.

— Orchestral performance: “Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 4,” Osmo Vanska, conductor.

— Opera recording: “Ades: The Tempest,” Thomas Ades, Simon Keenlyside, Isabel Leonard, Audrey Luna, Alan Oke, Jay David Saks.

— Choral performance: “Part: Adam’s Lament,” Tonu Kaljuste, conductor.

— Short-form music video: “Suit & Tie,” Justin Timberlake featuring Jay Z, David Fincher, Timory King.

— Long-form music video: “Live Kisses,” Paul McCartney, Jonas Akerlund, Violaine Etienne, Aron Levin and Scott Rodger.

— Historical album: “The Complete Sussex and Columbia Albums” of Bill Withers, Leo Sacks, Joseph M. Palmaccio, Tom Ruff and Mark Wilder, and “Charlie is My Darling,” Teri Landi, Andrew Loog Oldham, Steve Rosenthal and Bob Ludwig.

Daft Punk to Perform at GRAMMYs on CBS

Daft Punk will perform at the GRAMMYs for the first time since 2008.

Daft Punk will perform at the GRAMMYs for the first time since 2008.

Daft Punk will perform at the 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards on Sunday, Jan. 26 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.  The annual presentation will be broadcast on CBS Television Network from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Kendrick Lamar, Imagine Dragons, P!nk and Nate Ruess (of FUN.) will also take the stage.  There will also be a special  “GRAMMY Moment” featuring Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, and Blake Shelton.  Two-time GRAMMY winner LL COOL J returns as host of Music’s Biggest Night.

Imagine Dragon's "clues" campaign

Imagine Dragon’s “secrets” campaign

“Radioactive” is the hit song for Imagine Dragons.  Daft Punk’s YouTube video “Lose Yourself to Dance” has more than 14 million views.

The show also will be supported on radio worldwide via Westwood One, and covered online at GRAMMY.com and CBS.com.