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Honoree Neil Young fails to perform at music biz charity event

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Ever the “fierce independent” and “iconoclast” — two phrases showered on honoree Neil Young at the music industry’s annual Grammy charity bash on Friday — the grizzled rocker failed to perform for the black-tie crowd who had turned out to salute him. 

USA/Organizers said it was only the third time in the 20-year history of the MusiCares dinner that an honoree had not sung, after Billy Joel in 2002 and Luciano Pavarotti in 1998. Young’s publicist did not return a call seeking comment. Young was never billed as a performer, but disappointed guests assumed the tireless road warrior might dust off a few ditties.

The MusiCares event raises funds for musicians with medical and financial problems. It takes place two days before the Grammys, so an A-list crowd is always in attendance. Young, accompanied by his wife Pegi, was honored for his annual all-star concerts in Northern California for the Bridge School, an institution that helps disabled children.

mellenPlenty of big stars took to the stage at the cavernous Los Angeles Convention Center to hail the Canadian rocker, most of them turning in earnest versions of folkie songs such as “Down by the River” (John Mellencamp, pictured in the middle, at left), “Tell Me Why” (Norah Jones) and “Don’t Let It Bring You Down” (Jackson Browne), and “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” (Lady Antebellum). Josh Groban inadvertently set off an exodus to the bathrooms with his performance of the ballad “Harvest Moon,” but Wilco enlivened proceedings with an epic “Broken Arrow.” 

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