Legends Rock As Leonard Cohen Nabs First Win at 2018 Grammy Awards

Grammy Awards

Photo by Paul Butterfield/Getty Images

Music legends from Elton John to Patti LuPone took the stage while Leonard Cohen earned his first win at the 2018 Grammy Awards.

If the phrase “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone,” ever applied to a musical artist, it’s Leonard Cohen. Whenever the legendary troubadour slips out of the spotlight he manages to return with more fanfare and laurels than he enjoyed before. In the mid-2000s, he re-emerged from semi-retirement after being defrauded of his career earnings to enjoy a complete career renaissance, including multiple world tours and some of the most highly-acclaimed albums he’d ever released. And since his passing in November 2016 at the age of 82, Cohen’s enjoyed tribute concerts, a major museum retrospective in Montreal, multiple Juno wins for his final album, You Want it Darker, last year – including Album of the Year and Artist of the Year. That streak continued Sunday night at the 60th Grammy Awards, where he picked up his first ever Grammy, albeit posthumously, for Best Rock Performance for You Want it Darker, during the untelevised portion of the ceremony.

It may seem like a strange category for Cohen to land in, facing off against the likes of the Foo Fighters and the late Chris Cornell, but to Gideon Zelermyer, the Montreal cantor who, along with the Shaar Hashomayim Synagogue choir, performed on the album and share in the award, Cohen is most deserving of the honour.

“Sure, it’s such a thrill for the choir, myself and Adam (Leonard’s son, who produced the album). But, first and foremost, it’s a great honour for Leonard. His life accomplishments speak for themselves. He had received a Lifetime Achievement Award, but the one thing that he never won was a Grammy Award for his own work,” he told the Montreal Gazette. “This is a fitting final tribute for Leonard in a year that’s been full of his legacies.”

Cohen wasn’t the only 50-plus winner on a show that generally skews the spotlight toward younger artists. The Rolling Stones earned the Best Traditional Blues Album award for Blue & Lonesome while Reba McEntire, 62, took home the award for Best Roots Gospel Album for Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope. Dae Bennett, 62, son of Tony Bennett, won the Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album Grammy for his efforts in producing his father’s star-studded birthday celebration disc Tony Bennett Celebrates 90 and Carrie Fisher, who passed away in December, 2016, at the age of 60, won her first Grammy, Best Spoken Word Album for the audiobook of her memoir The Princess Diarist. Meanwhile Randy Newman, 74, nabbed the award for Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals for his tune “Putin” and German electronic music legends Kraftwerk, an age 60-plus line-up of performers that includes founding member Ralf Hütter, 71, won Best Electronic/Dance Album for their live album 3-D The Catalogue.

And speaking of live, boomers rocked the stage Sunday night as well. Elton John, 70, who announced his retirement from touring with a three-year tour – Farewell Yellow Brick Road – last week, performed a duet of “Tiny Dancer” with Miley Cyrus, whose vocals weren’t quite up to the task of interpreting one of the Rocket Man’s signature tunes.

Broadway legend Patti LuPone, 68, who starred in the original stage production of the musical Evita, echoed her 1981 Grammy performance of “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” with a rousing rendition in tribute to composer Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Sting, 66, performed his hit “Englishman in New York,” a fitting tune given the Grammys swapped their usual Los Angeles home base for the Big Apple and Madison Square Garden this year. He was joined toward the end by singer Shaggy, 49, with whom he’s collaborating on an upcoming album.

U2 performed a politically-infused (and pre-taped) version of their single “Get Out of Your Own Way,” from their 2017 disc Songs of Experience, while floating past the Statue of Liberty on a barge.

And musicians Jon Batiste and Gary Clark Jr. performed a tribute to rock pioneers Chuck Berry and Fats Domino, both of whom passed away in 2017, with a medley of “Ain’t That a Shame” and “Maybellene.”