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Etta James + Don Cornelius Left Out of in Memoriam Slideshow at 2012 Grammys

Etta James Don Cornelius
Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images

Every year, the Recording Academy pays tribute to artists who passed away over the last 12 months with an In Memoriam slideshow at the Grammy Awards — and every year, disgruntled fans point out which artists didn’t receive their due. But last night (Feb. 12), plenty of people who watched the slideshow noticed the surprising omission of a pair of recently deceased legends: Etta James and Don Cornelius.

The Academy defended its oversight by pointing out that James and Cornelius were honored during other portions of the show, tweeting: “Etta James tribute was by Bonnie Raitt & Alicia Keys at the top of the telecast & Questlove gave special attn to Don Cornelius.”

This is true, but it still rang hollow for some, including writer Toure, who took a break from working on his Nas biography to tweet, “Can’t believe Etta James and Don Cornelius weren’t in the Memoriam. I’m glad Etta got a tribute from Alicia, but she still should’ve gotten a picture in the Memoriam. It’s just a picture.” His sentiments were echoed by CNN’s Roland S. Martin, who thanked Questlove and host LL Cool J for mentioning Cornelius, but argued, “You add his photo to the ‘In Memoriam’ montage for historical reasons.”

Despite the slideshow snub, LL offered heartfelt recognition of Cornelius’ contributions to the culture, saying, “Take it from me here and my man Questlove, if you were standing next to the Don Cornelius, you were definitely on the hippest trip in America. Don Cornelius was the conductor of ‘Soul Train’ and thanks to him a lot of [people] learned about the meaning of soul and also how to dance. Don, peace, love and soul.”

Earlier in the night, Alicia Keys and Bonnie Raitt paid tribute to James with their performance of ‘Sunday Kind of Love,’ which included an affectionately awkward mention of Whitney Houston, who passed away Saturday (Feb. 11). What do you think? Was it enough, or should the Academy have made room for a couple of extra photos in the slideshow?

Watch All of the 2012 Grammy Awards Performances

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