Behind the scenes at the Grammys -- Outkast won big, but backstage it was all about Miss Jackson (Janet, that is)

By Liane Bonin
Updated February 07, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST
Missy Elliott, Grammy Awards 2004
Credit: Missy Elliott: Dan MacMedan/

The Grammy Awards pay tribute to the year’s best music, but backstage at Sunday night’s ceremony the kudos were drowned out by the continuing buzz over last week’s Super Bowl scandal, 50 Cent’s unexpected walk-on, and Parliament Funkadelic’s guy in the diaper. Here’s the dish on what had everyone talking behind the scenes.

Few stars could resist commenting on Janet Jackson’s ”wardrobe malfunction” during the evening. When Outkast’s Big Boi failed to make it to the stage to help Andre 3000 accept their Best Rap Album award, he tried some topical humor to explain his absence. ” Me and Janet [Jackson] was down the street talking, made me a little late,” he joked.

On a more serious note, Yoko Ono urged Jackson’s supporters to ignore the media frenzy. ”The most important thing is we don’t get perturbed by it, that we hold to our ideas and spirit and hope it will be better,” she said, recalling — in what seemed like a leap from the semi-ridiculous to the semi-sublime — that she and John Lennon had also been criticized, for their antiwar views in the late ’60s. ”We were attacked too, very much so in those days. I think it’s just an interesting dialogue that’s going to upset some people. I’m sure [Janet Jacskon] is ready for it. She’s a strong lady.”

Christina Aguilera made a point of sending some love to her former tourmate and Jackson bodice ripper, Justin Timberlake. ”I’m happy that Justin won for Best Male [Pop Vocalist] after all he’s been through lately,” she said. ”He’s a real gentleman, a really good guy.” And even though her barely-there dress came close to giving her some Janet Jacksonesque exposure when she hopped up to accept her Grammy for Best Pop Female Vocal, the singer refused to condemn last weekend’s Super Bowl high jinks. ”What is too raunchy?” she asked. ”Everyone has a different opinion of what’s too much. Music itself is an expression, so who’s to say what’s too raunchy?”

Missy Elliott revealed that she spoke with Jackson recently, though revealed few details. ”I’m gonna keep that a secret. I spoke to her, but we didn’t go into what happened. I just told her she was in my prayers, because I know she went through a lot this week. But she’s good.” Elliott also had warm feelings for another scandalized Jackson: ”I want to work with [Michael]. I love him and I love his music. Michael has opened doors for Missy Elliott and the videos I do. You might not see us at the movies together, but it’s all good. I want to see Michael rap. That would be something different.” Finally, she asked that fans give both Jacksons a break. ”As artists, we have to understand that we are people first. This is true for Janet, too, that we are human and we are entitled to make mistakes in our lives. I think people see us as perfect, and we’re not.”

Not everyone had scandalous memories of the Super Bowl. Beyoncé, who sang the national anthem at last week’s big game, called the evening ”a dream come true. I watched Whitney [Houston] do the national anthem, and I swear I was in tears. I told my mom, ”Some day I’m gonna do that,” and it happened. I just can’t believe my life.” She also couldn’t believe her luck at winning five Grammys over the course of the evening. ”I don’t even know what to say. I still can’t believe what happened. I’m going to have to rewind and watch it back.”

Another TiVo-worthy moment was 50 Cent’s decision to crash Evanescence’s acceptance speech. Later, former member Ben Moody revealed the rapper’s real reason for joining the band on stage. ”He’s actually a former member of Evanescence. That’s our secret,” he joked. Lead singer Amy Lee had a more likely explanation. ”He was up for the award also, and I actually expected him to win, and I guess he did, too,” she said. ”So I think it was his statement that he felt he should have won.”

Lee and Moody, who avoided each other backstage, had contrasting stories to tell about Moody’s acrimonious departure from the group. ”One day I just heard a voice, ‘Now is the time. You’ve got to go home now.’ I wasn’t home more than 24 hours and I was doing the soundtrack for ‘Resident Evil 2,’ and I’m a huge ‘Resident Evil’ fan, so I know I made the right decision,” Moody explained. ”Plus, I’m the devil according to some people. Ask Amy.” Lee didn’t call Moody the devil, but did complain, ”He left unexpectedly in the middle of our tour and didn’t even say anything about it. We found out from our manager in the middle of the night. We weren’t angry that he left, because something really needed to change. It was just the fact he left without any notice.”

Though he didn’t overshadow Janet’s nipple jewelry, Gary Shider of George Clinton’s Parliament Funkadelic made an unusual fashion statement by donning a diaper for the band’s performance: ”I tore my pants, and I had to go put something on, so I figured this towel would work. My designer is the Quality Inn. Holiday Inn said I took too many of theirs.”

While his performance with Sting, Vince Gill, and Pharrell on the Beatles ”I Saw Her Standing There” lacked Clinton’s funk, Dave Matthews admitted backstage that he felt a little funky about his share of the song lyrics. ”I did ask Sting and Vince if they didn’t choose to sing ‘she was just 17,’ but they said they didn’t have anything to do with it. It looks okay when you’re 22, but it seems kinda dirty when you’re my age.” Speaking of dirty, Matthews spoke frankly about the hottest topic of the evening. ”There have been t–s since before there was entertainment, so I’m surprised that it’s shocking that a boob might be seen somewhere other than National Geographic Explorer. That such a big stink can be made over such a little t–, as shocking as that may be, it doesn’t seem like it deserves so much attantion. Everything that it overshadowed, it shouldn’t have.”