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Music

Who is Ken Ehrlich, recipient of that long, star-studded Grammys 2020 tribute?

Ken Ehrlich
Longtime Grammys executive producer Ken Ehrlich received an elaborate tribute performance at the 2020 Grammys.
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

The 2020 Grammys rolled out an elaborate, star-studded tribute for Ken Ehrlich, the longtime Grammys executive producer best known for mashup live performances featuring musicians from often wildly disparate genres and generations.

Hence, it was appropriate that his own farewell celebration Sunday night united a slew of performers, including Joshua Bell, Camila Cabello, Gary Clark Jr., Common, Misty Copeland, pianist Lang Lang, Cyndi Lauper, John Legend, Ben Platt, and the War and Treaty.

The industry veteran began his career with the Grammy Awards telecast in 1980, presiding over the show for 40 years.

“We opened the show with five Grammy performers stationed all over Staples Center: Gwen Stefani and Eve, Maroon 5, Black Eyed Peas and Los Lonely Boys,” he told The Times in December, referring to one of his past Frankenstein creations ahead of Sunday’s show.

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“I’ve always loved the finale scene from the movie ‘Fame,’ where all the different departments come together and perform ‘I Sing the Body Electric.’ And I had always tried to find a way to steal it for the show. The closest I came was that year.

“We had done three acts, and even four acts in the same number, but this one had the most people coming on- and offstage. Rehearsing it was almost impossible — it was like herding cats: This one’s here, that one’s there. But it was fun to do.”

Last summer, it was announced that Ehrlich would be leaving his post after the 2020 broadcast — his final night at the helm.

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“I don’t know what my legacy is going to be with this show,” Ehrlich told The Times. “I don’t know if next year I’ll be forgotten. I don’t care. These have been 40 of the most amazing years of my life.”

Before his 40th and final Grammy Awards telecast, executive producer Ken Ehrlich shares his most chaotic, nerve-racking and talked-about moments.


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