Craig has a mission. The kid has not struggled into his best suit and followed his parents into one of the fanciest restaurants in Beverly Hills for nothing. He is maybe 11 at the outside and so he has to crane his neck as he eyeballs the crowd around this skinny man, his funny bearded fellow who might be a Modigliani painting of the Wild Man from Borneo. Dubiously, clutching his autograph book, Craig demands, "Are any of you famous?"

The skinny man looks down with wide, astonished eyes: Are there famous people here? Clearly not worth an autograph. The kid moves on and Mick Fleetwood, of Fleetwood Mac, of Platinum-Record-Times-Ten and Gold-Record-Times-Twenty, of 10 million copies sold, and as of three hours ago, of Best Album of 1977 - that Fleetwood - scratches his beard as he watches him go.

"Great," he said. "Just great." He has been telling people all night long how he feels. He just got back from Dublin. "A bit jet lag but great." Christine McVie, her face half hidden under a mass of tight blond curls, is saying this also - "great, great' - but then someone remembers the speeches toward the end that droned on and on. McVie was starring and wanted a smoke and her palms kept sweating.

"Actually," says McVie, drink in one hand and cigarette in the other, "I was at the point where I would have been p ----- if we hadn't won that award."

The glitter has been profuse this evening . . . What is it about television, that 30-million audience, no auditorium could pack a crowd that big ("Live television") a musician rhapsodizes later, "there's nothing quite as exciting") . . . and the entrances straining for the drama of the Academy Awards, impossibly long limousines purring up to the red carpet at the Shrine Auditorium, gold and silver limousines with builtin color television sets and antennae poking out all over like crazy spider legs, and that starhungry throng behind the ropes, razzing the Kharmann Ghia and Wanting glamour so much that you could hear a woman hiss over and over, "Come on, I want somebody who's somebody . . ."

Still and all.The industry chooses the Grammy awards and there's peer respect in the thing. "It's about the only time we get to see other entertainers," says John Seals, who was nominated, as half of Seals and Croft, for Best Arrangements for Voices. "It makes you feel good to know that someone likes what you do well enough to nominate you."

"This is the post-Grammies gathering, the ritual after the ritual, the retreat into private selves after the performers' breathless confrontations with the creations they have become. You saw that at its starkest when Shaun Cassidy came backstage after losing the Best New Artist award to Debby Boone - the disappointment still etched around the eyes, the photographers all yelling his first name, the shoulders back and the mouth pulled into a smile. He looked like a nice guy with a stomachache climbing shakily into a status of himself and then clawing to get out.

Now he is wandering around Chasen's of Beverly Hill with a bottle of beer in hand, waxing philosophical. "It's only my first year in the business." He is head to toe in gleaming white. His young brother Pat, watching the dancers on the TV Grammies replay, becomes excited: "Hey, I know those guys. They danced at that bar mitzvah." Television stars. He sounds impressed.

Something about the television delights most of them, in fact, the whole Warner Bors. collection milling around the Baked Alaska here. Fleetwood Mac's Stevie Nicks watches herself with a riveted fascination, smiling a little, mouthing the words she knows are coming next. "Warner Brothers! Thank you." She throws one arm up, fists clenched, and nods emphatically.

"Enough of this," mutter Christine McVie. "Let's watch the Odd Couple."

Debby Boone is late. (Debby Boon is in fact en route by limousine, having been delayed by an errant chaufeur of whom she will sputter, "I'm just going to kick him in the shins," then looking abashed at her outburst.) Her parents are though here motionless in front of the television screen, transfixed by the image of Debby on stage.

"Just her hand shaking betrays it," says Shirley Boone. Debby Boone was nervous. She was up for Best Record of the Year, which she lost, and she was nervous. A mother knows these things. "She's really just pouring herself into it," Pat Boone says under his breath. Shirley Boone swells a little, eyes bright. Two tables full of people are watching her watch her daughter.

"I can't help but think," Pat Boone says, "it was just a year and a half ago she had a chance to sneak into a studio and hide behind a door to listen to Barbra Streisand recording. She said it was the most exciting moment of her life, seeing Barbra Streisand in person, and now here she is in the same category."

Someone asks Pat Boone, "Do you run? I knew it must be something. I run four miles a day." Boone says he runs, yes. The other man nods, as though he has grasped it all.

"We didn't even pick ours up when we won one." Stephen Stills, tuxedoed and thirsty, is elbowing his way toward the bar at the Baltimore Hotel. This year he got up on stage with David Crosby and Graham Nash, both similiarly tuxedoed, to announce the Album of the Year award.

What happened before? "We were jive then." He shrugs. "We were in our hippie phase. I think it's different now. There's nothing wrong with putting on a suit."

Was this suit bought special for the occasion? Stills squares hi shoulders. "I had it made."

The face-grabber photographers have scattered for the serious parties, the private affairs. What you have left here is not exactly riffraff that is hardly the way to speak of a multimillion-dollar industry.

What you have left is eight rooms full of elegant food and music money, even with most of the performers off celebrating privately: one room for disco, one room for chamber music, one room holding Count Basie's whole orchestra.

This is the Byzantine industry that swirls around the musician's work now: creative assistants, producers, art directors, engineers, the not-quite-famous.

"Baby I'm sorry you didn't get it."

"Not only is it a calculator, but I can tell you what time it is in Tokyo."

"If no one believes in you, you must believe in your agent."

"I could show my b-bs and my back but that would be like every other party." Tiny red lights are flickering up and down this woman's pant leg. Also her left breast pocket. Also her right sleeve and right heel, which mange to syncopate with the left side like a nicely timed Christmas tree. "It's like dancing," she explains."Look at the shoes. Aren't they divine?"

Michael Quatro, the musician she has corralled, contemplates her flickering chest area. "I must admit I'm impressed," he says. The woman identifies herself as Rita Alexander, acress, Golden hair comes out the top of her plastic cap. "The whole thing in life, it seems to me," she says, gripping a listener's arm in a spasm of sincerity, "is friends helping friends."

Quatro decides to tell a Hollywood story. He has been away for a while. "I get to Hollywood and Vine and I see this row of bushes shaped like little Christmas trees, seven bushes in a row, and right there where the eighth bush would go is this person, sitting there, with his hands over his head, pretending to be a bush."

Quatro chortles for a while and goes off for another drink.