Lady Gaga paid psychedelic tribute on the Grammys stage on Monday to the late British rock visionary David Bowie with a multimedia song-and-dance performance that sought to capture the boundary-pushing essence of a kindred pop music spirit.
Bowie, a forerunner of Gaga’s brand of provocative, gender-bending performance imagery, died of cancer at age 69 on Jan. 10, just two days after the release of what became his critically acclaimed final studio album, “Blackstar.”
Gaga, 29, a six-time Grammy laureate who, like Bowie, is known for frequent self-reinvention, arrived on the red carpet dressed in an outfit that channeled Bowie’s signature androgynous look, sporting a bright, blue embellished jacket-dress and bright orange hair.
On stage she charted Bowie’s half-century career with a medley touching on 10 of his hits – “Space Oddity,” “Changes,” “Ziggy Stardust,” “Suffragette City,” “Rebel Rebel,” “Fashion,” “Fame,” “Under Pressure,” “Let’s Dance” and “Heroes.”
The song-dance number was punctuated by a torrent of flashing multi-colored lights and images projected on a large screen behind her, including a closeup of her face adorned in Aladdin Sane makeup – a nod to one of Bowie’s personas – with a spider crawling over her nose.
Bowie’s work also garnered posthumous Grammy award recognition on Monday as a new version of his composition “Sue (Or In a Season of Crime),” re-recorded for his 26th and final studio album, “Blackstar,” earned the prize for best arrangement for instrument and vocals.
That Grammy went to big-band orchestra leader and composer Maria Schneider, who said she had no idea at the time she was collaborating with Bowie on what would be his final project.
“It was the greatest privilege to work with David Bowie and to experience his creativity,” she told reporters backstage.
“Sue” was originally included as a fresh track for Bowie’s 2014 compilation album “Nothing Has Changed.” The album “Blackstar” was released two days before his death.
Earlier in the show, another late pop talent, Eagles co-founder, guitarist and songwriter Glenn Frey, was saluted by surviving members of his band who joined Jackson Browne for a performance of one of the Eagles’ biggest hits, “Take It Easy.”
Frey, who co-founded the Eagles with Don Henley in 1971 in Los Angeles, died at age 67 in January of complications from a number of ailments, including pneumonia.
Browne, who co-wrote the song, stood in for Frey on lead vocals, with the Eagles’ familiar backing harmonies and laid-back instrumental accompaniment from Henley, along with Joe Walsh, Timothy B. Schmit and Bernie Leadon.
In other musical homages to the fallen of pop music, Stevie Wonder joined the a cappella group Pentatonix for a tribute to Maurice White, late founder of the R&B funk band Earth, Wind & Fire, with a performance of the title track off the band’s hit album, “That’s the Way of the World.”
And Bonnie Raitt teamed up with Chris Stapleton and Gary Clark Jr. on “The Thrill Is Gone” in salute of the late blues icon B.B. King.