BEVERLY HILLS - A year after Whitney Houston's death sent shock waves through revelers and transformed the party into a makeshift wake, the Pre-Grammy Gala hosted by music mogul Clive Davis recaptured its jubilant mojo.
The dinner and schmooze-fest, capped by a string of top-drawer performances, drew the usual celebrity crush Saturday in the ballroom of the Beverly Hilton.
Regulars Jon Voigt, Dianne Warren and David Foster mingled among luminaries from the worlds of film (Melanie Griffith, Johnny Depp in shades, beret and scarf), TV (Tyra Banks, Kelsey Grammer) and sports (San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick), plus hordes of music executives and stars.
Joni Mitchell made a rare social appearance, sitting with Alice Cooper and Paul Stanley of Kiss. Miley Cyrus, sporting a punkish coif and a tattoo-revealing black dress with sheer panels, retreated to the patio to smoke.
Grammy nominees Frank Ocean, Carly Rae Jepsen, Miguel, The Lumineers, Wiz Khalifa, Usher, Ne-Yo and Katy Perry (with John Mayer) showed up. Quincy Jones, The Foo Fighters, Jill Scott, Ciara, Brandy, Sting and wife Trudie Styler also attended. Representing American Idol: alum Jordin Sparks, host Ryan Seacrest and judge Randy Jackson.
Joan Rivers, with daughter Melissa, was on a dual mission: to have fun and to gather material for her snarky Fashion Police show. She's constantly on the prowl for celebrity fashion highs and lows, she said, adding, "You have to joke about it."
John Legend, attending for the first time, said, "I'm excited. It's like a music business reunion. I'm seeing all sorts of people I know."
Basketball legend Magic Johnson, strolling the reception area with wife Cookie, was besieged by admirers.
"I'm here because Clive gives the best parties," he said, "He's got a big heart and he's a genius. And I'm here to support L.A. Reid. I love music. If I hadn't been an athlete, I would have loved to be a singer."
Epic Records chairman and X Factor judge Antonio "L.A." Reid received the Industry Icon award after copious praise from Davis, Babyface and Usher, who credited Reid with launching his career and not allowing him to use his first stage name, Cha Cha.
The anniversary of Houston's death was acknowledged with a 1991 video of the singer performing All the Man That I Need before troops and their families at the Naval Air Station in Norfolk, Va. It was from her first solo TV concert. Davis touched on the somber 2012 soiree and thanked Sean "Puffy" Combs for the healing speech he delivered to mourning guests. Houston's brother, Gary, and his wife Pat, who served as the diva's manager, sat close to the stage.
Houston's mother, Cissy, was a no-show, telling Access Hollywood last week that she considered the invitation "the most obscene thing."
"I don't know why they would want me to come to the party in which she died, you know?" she said, "Unheard of. I guess maybe (Davis) just sent me a copy for remembrance sake."
The pop star was 48 when she was found dead in a bathtub in room 434 of the hotel just hours before the party a year ago (the room has been empty and off limits since her death). With the family's blessing, Davis, Houston's mentor, opted not to cancel.
While last year's concert served as a tribute to Houston, Saturday's simply aimed to entertain, opening with an EDM blastoff by Dutch house DJ Afrojack's medley of Take Over Control, Turn Me On and As Your Friend.
Before performing, Patti Smith, whom Davis signed in 1975, told the crowd, "I'm proud to be here. This is our first pre-Grammy or post-Grammy or Grammy anything."
She and her band, featuring daughter Jesse on keyboards, roared through Gloria and People Have the Power.
Miguel performed Sure Thing and Adorn, followed by The Lumineers' Ho Hey and Stubborn Love. Usher sang U Got It Bad and Climax, then turned the spotlight over to soulful British pop star Emeli Sandé.
Jennifer Hudson took the stage to sing Gladys Knight's Where Peaceful Waters Flow. Knight joined her for a duet of I Heard it Through the Grapevine then took over on a handful of her hits including the crowd-pleaser, Midnight Train to Georgia.
Awed by the star-studded guest list and stage lineup, CBS chief Les Moonves said, "This is the invitation that everyone wants," noting that the Grammy Awards had come to be known as "Clive's after-party."
Edna Gundersen, USA TODAY