Bon Jovi rocks with Springsteen, McCartney dances in the crowd at Grammys MusiCares event

Bon Jovi rocks with Springsteen, McCartney dances in the crowd at Grammys MusiCares event

LOS ANGELES – Leave it to a couple of Jersey boys to run away with the show moments after it started.

Jon Bon Jovi, the 2024 MusiCares Person of the Year honoree, took the rare step of opening the gala designed to celebrate his philanthropic efforts and musical longevity.

Before any admirers could step on stage, Bon Jovi – drummer Tico Torres, keyboardist David Bryan, guitarist John Shanks, bassist Hugh McDonald and percussionist Everett Bradley – commandeered the room Friday at the Los Angeles Convention Center, first with the band’s new single, the reliably anthemic rocker “Legendary,” and then with a fellow New Jersey icon.

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Jersey boys Bruce Springsteen (left) and Jon Bon Jovi performed Bon Jovi's "Who Says You Can't Go Home" and Springsteen's "The Promised Land" to open the 2024 MusiCares Person of the Year gala honoring Jon Bon Jovi, Feb. 2 in Los Angeles.

“My hero and my mentor” is how Jon Bon Jovi, 61, introduced a smiling Springsteen, who, despite the death of his 98-year-old mother, Adele, on Wednesday kept his promise to fete his old friend.

The pair – Springsteen in tan suede and Bon Jovi the man in black with ashen hair – traded guitar licks and verses on Bon Jovi’s “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” as a gleeful Paul McCartney danced by his seat. Even though it was Jon Bon Jovi’s night, no one grumbled about the appearance of a Springsteen song and indeed, a singalong and dueling harmonicas marked a detour to “The Promised Land.”

Bon Jovi was chosen as the honoree at the 33rd annual MusiCares event because of his charitable endeavors, including the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation and four locations of the JBJ Soul Kitchen, a nonprofit community restaurant.

MusiCares is the foundation arm of the Recording Academy, which produces the Grammy Awards, that provides aid, including emergency financial assistance, medical expenses, addiction recovery, disaster relief and treatment for critical illnesses to members of the music community.

Paul McCartney attends the 2024 MusiCares Person of the Year Honoring Jon Bon Jovi.

A stampede of eclectic performers, presenters and guests filled the room of about 2,000 including Melissa Etheridge, Shania Twain, Jason Isbell, Lainey Wilson, Ted Danson, Lenny Kravitz, Sammy Hagar, Gayle King, Kylie Minogue and Rita Wilson.

Before the show, Bon Jovi walked the red carpet and Torres acknowledged one of their frontman’s prime accomplishments.

“Jon has kept us together for 40 years, and that isn’t an easy thing to do,” he said.

Here are some of the standout performances of the two-hour-plus event, hosted by an appropriately ribbing Jim Gaffigan.

Melissa Etheridge and Larkin Poe, ‘Blaze of Glory’

Melissa Etheridge (center) performs with Rebecca and Megan Lovell of Larkin Poe during the 2024 MusiCares Person of the Year gala at the LA Convention Center in Los Angeles, Feb. 2, 2024.

The march of the beat and the whine of the pedal steel guitar that power Jon Bon Jovi’s Oscar-nominated solo hit from 1990 were tautly replicated by Etheridge and Larkin Poe’s scintillating Rebecca and Megan Lovell.

Etheridge, donning the requisite cowboy hat, unleashed her flammable voice, all grit and kerosene, on the deliberately plodding song, injecting it with her own cadence and drama as Larkin Poe augmented the cascade of guitars.

Jelly Roll, ‘Bad Medicine’

Country-rock singer Jelly Roll rocked out to "Bad Medicine" at the 2024 MusiCares Person of the Year gala to honor Jon Bon Jovi.

The double Grammy nominee, who already straddles country and rock, sometimes with a smattering of hip-hop, showcased his versatility on a roaring rendition of “Bad Medicine.” But that a cross-genre artist such as Jelly Roll can so readily execute the punchy rocker is also testament to the charm of Bon Jovi’s catalog. “You’ve inspired me my whole life,” a visibly moved Jelly Roll told Bon Jovi.

Jason Isbell, ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’

Jason Isbell offered a chic cowboy look as he performed "Wanted Dead or Alive" at the 2024 MusiCares Person of the Year Honoring Jon Bon Jovi, Feb. 2 in Los Angeles.

Seemingly paying tribute to original Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora with his black flat-brimmed hat, ebony trench coat and double-neck guitar, Isbell also nodded to the erstwhile musician with his vocal delivery. The song, which Jon Bon Jovi has called the band’s “national anthem,” prominently features Sambora’s vocals on the chorus, and Isbell managed to nod to both Sambora and Bon Jovi with a voice full of gravel and defiance and a searing guitar solo.

Damiano David, ‘Keep the Faith’

Måneskin frontman Damiano David sings "Keep the Faith" in honor of Bon Jovi at the 2024 MusiCares Person of the Year gala Feb. 2, 2024 in Los Angeles.

The magnetic frontman for Italian rockers Måneskin hit the stage solo this time, his tattooed skin bared under a black tank top. David is a captivating stage presence, but he’s also the kind of singer capable of seducing and rocking in the same refrain – a handy trait for a song that dives and escalates.

The War and Treaty, ‘I’ll Be There for You’

(L-R) Michael Trotter Jr. and Tanya Trotter of The War and Treaty received a standing ovation for their rendition of Bon Jovi's "I'll Be There for You" at the Feb. 2 2024 MusiCares Person of the Year gala in Los Angeles.

The Grammy-nominated couple needed only an upright bass, piano and acoustic guitar as the backdrop to the most potent vocal delivery of the show. The song is a declaration of devotion and between the elements of gospel implanted in the chorus and the incendiary vocals of Tanya and Michael Totter Jr. – the latter thoroughly nailing the lyric “I wish I’d seen you blow those candles out” – the performance spurred a deserved ovation.

Mammoth WVH, ‘Have a Nice Day’

Wolfgang Van Halen and the rest of his band, Mammoth WVH, performed "Have a Nice Day" at the 2024 MusiCares Person of the Year gala at the LA Convention Center in Los Angeles, Feb. 2, 2024.

Before the show, Wolfgang Van Halen said that he was a child when he first met Jon Bon Jovi but that his late father, Eddie, always spoke fondly of their friendship. Bon Jovi specifically requested that Mammoth WVH – the only rock band playing the event – perform the sneering kiss off of a song (the title track of the band’s 2005 album). Bon Jovi looked on, smiling paternally, as Van Halen’s harmonious voice and limber-fingered guitar solo punctuated the anthem with melodic crunch.

Brandy Clark, ‘(You Want To) Make a Memory’

Brandy Clark plays Bon Jovi's wistful "(You Want to) Make a Memory" in honor of Jon Bon Jovi at the Feb. 2 MusiCares Person of the Year gala in Los Angeles.

With six nominations this year, Clark offered a pure, emotional version of the wistful ballad, a seesaw of aching nostalgia and cautious progression. Playing her acoustic guitar, Clark was backed by a piano and cello for one of the most reflective songs in the Bon Jovi oeuvre.

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