SMOOTH SANTANA TIES RECORD WITH EIGHT.
The coronation of Carlos Santana went off as expected at the 42nd annual Grammy Awards on Wednesday night at Staples Center with the guitar legend taking home eight trophies - seven more than he has won in his 32-year career.
The 52-year-old Mexican-born Santana lost only once - to himself in the pop collaboration category where he was nominated twice. (In that division, he won, incidentally, for ``Smooth,'' which was also honored as song of the year.
Among Santana's honors: record of the year, album of the year and best rock album. The eight trophies tied the record for most Grammys in a single year. Michael Jackson won eight in 1983 for the album ``Thriller.''
``If to live is to dream and to die is to awaken, please don't wake me up,'' an appreciative Santana said after one of his awards.
Itaal Shur and Rob Thomas won song-of-the-year Grammys for writing ``Smooth.''
Backstage, embattled Arista Records President Clive Davis, who co-produced Santana's album, called the record ``the 'Hotel California' or 'Rumours' of its time.''
Santana himself called the evening ``a real honor, an outpouring of love and grace.''
Despite the amount of attention given in the past year to teen-age performers (or maybe because of it), the night very much belonged to the Old Guard. In addition to Santana's sweep, Sting won two major awards and that grand old dame of R&B, Whitney Houston, beat out Macy Gray and Brandy for female R&B vocal.
Youth was served in the new artist category in which 19-year-old Christina Aguilera beat fellow teen favorite Britney Spears and 30-year-old Van Nuys native Gray.
``I do not have a speech prepared," said Aguilera, who then supported that statement with a rambling, bubbly speech that gave thanks to "my mom, my dad and my God.''
Later, Aguilera revealed plans for a Spanish-language album and a Christmas record.
``Eventually I want to get more writing credit,'' Aguilera said. ``I want to take pop a little deeper than it is now . . . because it shouldn't be all about image.''
The kids also received their fair share of screen time during the evening with performances by Spears and Kid Rock and two from the Backstreet Boys. Kid Rock's rap-metal production number included gyrating, scantily clad go-go dancers and midget rapper Joe C, who was fond of grabbing his crotch.
``What the hell was that?'' host Rosie O'Donnell asked, ``and why am I so afraid of it?'' In less frightening developments, Elton John received the Grammy Legend Award and sang a snappy version of ``Philadelphia Freedom'' with the Backstreet Boys.
``If being a writer, a piano player, a singer and touring together isn't enough in common, we've also both been taken to the cleaners by our managers.'' Billy Joel said when when introducing John.
John appeared backstage for about five seconds before storming off the stage.
"It's been a big night," presenter Joel said, attempting to explain John's fit.
The Dixie Chicks were the big country music winners, taking three awards, including best country album. The group, composed of sisters Martie Erwin Seidel and Emily Erwin Robinson plus singer Natalie Maines, invited actor Dennis Franz to the show. The ``NYPD Blue'' actor played the title character in the video to the group's hit song, "Goodbye Earl."
"I feel like I'm crashing a dinner party," Franz said, adding that he thought of O.J. Simpson while playing the nasty Earl.
"Any man who gets murdered with black-eyed peas is a real man in my book," Maines said.
Shania Twain, a winner for best female country vocal, was a no-show. Presenter Clint Black explained her absence: "She's getting her belly waxed."
Country legend George Jones won for male vocal performance.
Sting won his 13th and 14th Grammys for pop album and male pop vocal for his album and song ``Brand New Day.''
``I have a very large mantelpiece,'' Sting quipped backstage, adding, ``I'm just lucky I wasn't up against Carlos in any of my categories.''
Others needing a little more trophy space are Sheryl Crow, who won her seventh Grammy for her version of ``Sweet Child O' Mine'' and the members of TLC, winning Grammy No. 3 for R&B group performance. Their song ``No Scrubs'' also was honored as best R&B song.
Music's Latin contingent didn't receive any awards on the television portion of the program (outside of Santana, of course). But Latin legends Tito Puente, Ruben Blades and Poncho Sanchez all received trophies during pre-telecast ceremonies. An all-Latin Grammys ceremony will be held in September, to be televised by CBS.
In the evening's televised rap category, The Roots and Erykah Badu won for group performance for their song ``You Got Me.'' White rapper Eminem took the rap solo category.
Lifetime Achievement awards went to the singer and actor Harry Belafonte, folk artist Woody Guthrie, bluesman John Lee Hooker, male choral arranger and record producer Mitch Miller and country legend Willie Nelson.
There were no awards in the jazz categories during the evening ceremony. Diana Krall, whose ``When I Look in Your Eyes'' had been nominated for album of the year, won for best jazz vocal. Eighty-eight of the 98 categories had been awarded in little more than 90 minutes in an afternoon event, but Santana did pay tribute to a jazz legend in one of his acceptance speeches. ``Long live John Coltrane!'' he said emphatically.
Photo: (1 -- color) Carlos Santana reflects on his eight Grammys and another won by "Smooth" songwriters.
(2 -- color) Sting wins his 13th and 14th Grammys for pop album and male pop vocal for "Brand New Day."
John McCoy/Staff Photographer
(3 -- color) Carlos Santana performs at the 42nd annual Grammy Awards at Staples Center on Wednesday ngith.
Kevork Djansezian/Association Press