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Richie performed "Lady," the 1980 hit he wrote and produced for his late friend.

By Christian Holub
March 14, 2021 at 10:58 PM EDT
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It's been a tough year for music. Many legends were lost to the COVID-19 pandemic, and others died from myriad other causes, both natural and tragic. So the 63rd annual Grammy Awards on Sunday had a lot of ground to cover in their "In Memoriam" segment, but still managed to give fitting tributes to some of the departed icons.

One of the most touching was Lionel Richie's song to his late friend Kenny Rogers. Though Rogers first broke out as a country-rock artist, he crossed over into multiple genres over his career, and in 1980 he scored a no. 1 hit with "Lady," written and produced by Richie. Richie covered "Lady" during the "In Memoriam" portion of the show as pictures of him and Rogers appeared on the screen behind him.

"I miss you, Kenny. I miss you, man," Richie said after he finished singing.

Lionel Richie performs during a tribute to the late Kenny Rogers
Credit: Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Following the emotional performance, Richie shared that singing the song "without Kenny there, was incredibly hard."

Other star-studded tributes included Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak teaming up for a tribute to the legendary Little Richard and Brandi Carlile covering the late John Prine's final song, "I Remember Everything" (she previously covered his song "Hello in There" on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert shortly after his death from COVID-19). The tributes concluded with a powerful performance of "You'll Never Walk Alone" by Brittany Howard, accompanied by Coldplay's Chris Martin on piano.

The Grammys have sometimes excluded notable names from the "In Memoriam" in years past, so host Trevor Noah made sure to note that at the end of Sunday's ceremony, the Grammys website would be updated with a list of over 1,000 people in music who had died over the past year.

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