Credit: Phil JacobsGrammy Salute to Music Legends, a special focusing on a gala event celebrating the Recording Academy’s 2016 Special Merit Award winners, premieres tonight at 9 p.m. ET as the latest episode of PBS’ Great Performances series. The show, which took place on April 23 in Los Angeles, featured tributes to this year’s Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award honorees, including the Jefferson Airplane, Earth, Wind & Fire and Linda Ronstadt.

Founding Jefferson Airplane guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and bassist Jack Casady attended the event, as did longtime Airplane singer Grace Slick. Kaukonen and Casady also participated in the band’s tribute performance. Jorma tells ABC Radio that getting a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award was “really exciting” and unexpected for him, since the Airplane was always considered “outside the mainstream.”

Slick, who retired from performing years ago, invited current Jefferson Starship frontwoman Cathy Richardson to fill in for her. Richardson joined Kaukonen and Casady for a rendition of the band’s classic “Somebody to Love,” while Jorma sang the more obscure “Come Back Baby.”

As much as Kaukonen enjoyed performing, that wasn’t his favorite part of the evening.

“My highlight of the Grammy event is when they call you up and you go on stage to receive your award and make your little speech,” he tells ABC Radio, “and you realize that it’s actually happening.”

Kaukonen says he also enjoyed Earth, Wind & Fire’s performance and Kris Kristofferson and Shelby Lynne‘s duet rendition of Kris’ “Me and Bobby McGee,” sung in tribute to the song’s co-writer, Fred Foster.

“It was just a great evening,” says Jorma. “If I hadn’t gotten there for free I would have paid to see that show.”

Among the event’s other honorees were jazz great Herbie Hancock, hip-hop pioneers Run-DMC, late R&B singer Ruth Brown and late salsa legend Celia Cruz.

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