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Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys won his first Grammy.



Published: Mon, February 14, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys won his first Grammy.

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The late Ray Charles' duets album "Genius Loves Company," recorded during the final months of his life, led the Grammys with seven wins Sunday night.

The sentimental favorite won record of the year and best pop collaboration for his ballad with Norah Jones, "Here We Go Again," as well as best pop album. Charles also was contending for album of the year.

"I think it just shows how wonderful music can be," Jones said as she accepted the trophy for record of the year.

Other winners included Alicia Keys and Usher, each nominated for eight Grammys. By midevening Keys had won four while Usher had three. They shared one award, for best R & amp;B performance by a duo or group with vocals for their No. 1 duet, "My Boo."

U2 also had three awards, including best rock performance by a duo or group, while Green Day, the most nominated rock act with six nods for their politically charged punk rock opera "American Idiot," won best rock album.

Most nominated

The most nominated artist of the year may be the most multifaceted -- Kanye West, the songwriter-producer who made his rap debut in 2004 with the cutting-edge CD "The College Dropout." West was nominated for 10 Grammys, including album of the year. In the pre-telecast ceremony he won two, including best rap song for "Jesus Walks."

But he was upset in the best new artist category, losing to Maroon 5 in a race that also included country singer Gretchen Wilson, the Los Lonely Boys and soul siren Joss Stone.

Maroon 5's Adam Levine seemed almost apologetic after winning.

"Kanye West, I want to thank you so much for being wonderful," he said. The camera cut away to West, who looked less than pleased.

Some expected West to have a meltdown like at the American Music Awards, where he complained bitterly backstage after losing the same award to Wilson. But on Sunday night he went on to deliver an eye-popping performance of "Jesus Walks" and an emotional acceptance speech for the best rap album award.

After referencing the car accident a few years ago that almost took his life, West promised to live life to the fullest: "I plan to celebrate and scream and pop champagne every chance I get because I'M AT THE GRAMMYS BABY!"

He also referenced his American Music Awards embarrassment. "Everybody wanted to know what would I do if I didn't win. I guess we'll never know," he said, holding his trophy up high.

Veterans

At least West didn't have to wait decades to get a trophy, as did some veterans finally honored by the Recording Academy.

Steve Earle's left-leaning "The Revolution Starts ... Now" won for contemporary folk album. And Rod Stewart -- who had complained in recent years about never winning a Grammy -- won for traditional pop vocal album for his standards recording "Stardust ... The Great American Songbook Vol. III."

Brian Wilson, who released his album "Smile" after a more than three-decade wait, won best rock instrumental performance for "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow." He had never been honored before, even as leader of The Beach Boys. The big irony: the man who did more for vocal harmony than anyone in rock 'n' roll won in an instrumental category.

"I waited 42 years for this Grammy and it was well worth the wait," Wilson said backstage. "It represents triumph and achievement in music that I feel that I deserved, and I'm really glad I won."

The oft-maligned Britney Spears also won her first Grammy -- best dance recording for "Toxic."

Perhaps the evening's most exhilarating performance was from Melissa Etheridge. The rocker, who is battling breast cancer, took to the stage for a tribute to Janis Joplin with a shaved head but strong voice, and received a standing ovation for her stirring performance with Stone.




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