Quincy Jones, Lena Horne and Kim Carnes walked off with most of the major awards at last night's 24th Annual Grammys ceremony, but their feat was nearly overshadowed by the evening's most poignant moment--Yoko Ono's acceptance of the Album of the Year award for "Double Fantasy." The album was released shortly before the shooting death last year of Ono's husband, former Beatle John Lennon.
Hand to her chest, and visibly moved, Ono and son Sean came on stage to a torrent of applause and had to wait for it to subside before speaking. "John is with us here tonight," Ono said haltingly. "John and I were always very proud and happy that we were part of the human race who made good music for the Earth and for the universe." She then asked Sean if he wanted to say anything, but he demurred.
It was a year for catching up with overlooked artists of the past. Lena Horne, never honored in her long and illustrious career, won a pair of Grammys for her one-woman Broadway show album, "The Lady and Her Music," which in a major upset also was named Best Pop Vocal (Female) over Kim Carnes, Sheena Easton and Olivia Newton-John. "It's a lifetime achievement of a legend," said the album's producer, Quincy Jones; he said it twice.
Kim Carnes' "Betty Davis Eyes" won Record of the Year and earned its composers, Jackie DeShannon and Donna Weiss, the Song of the Year award. When the latter two sang it, they sounded remarkably like the gravel-voiced Carnes; it must be catching.
Quincy Jones was far and away the night's biggest winner. He should put in for mileage after walking up to the stage and then away with six awards, including one for being Producer of the Year and one for his work on the Horne album. (He also accepted for Horne, who was performing in New York and received word of her twin victories in the middle of her Broadway curtain call.)
Jones' pot of gold was "The Dude," which he composed, arranged, produced and performed on; it earned him four Grammys for Best Rhythm & Blues Vocals (Group), Best R&B Vocals (Male) for James Ingram, Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocals and Best Arrangement on an Instrumental Recording. "I just can't believe tonight," Jones said after the first three awards. By evening's end, he was reduced to remembering an earlier year "when I had flowing hair and a slim waistline like James Ingram." In a mild upset, Ingram, a studio vocalist who doesn't even have his own record out, won the R&B vocal award.
Double winners included The Police (rock group vocals and instrumental), Dolly Parton (country song and female vocal performance), Manhattan Transfer (pop and jazz vocals), Mike Post (instrumental composition and performance awards for "Theme from 'Hill Street Blues' "), Al Jarreau (jazz and pop vocals), Itzhak Perlman and the Chicago Symphony under Sir Georg Solti (best album and best orchestra album). Washington artists, producers and record companies, nominated in five categories, were totally shut out this year.
Repeat winners from last year included Pat Benatar (female rock vocals), Perlman, The Police and Manhattan Transfer, Ella Fitzgerald, Solti and the Chicago Symphony and John Williams, who should retire the Best Album of Original TV or Motion Picture Score Grammy. Irony and Fair Warning Award to one-time Monkee Michael Nesmithfor capturing the first-ever Video Grammy, for "Elephant Parts." Nesmith, an industry maverick, has predicted that audio-only records will be obsolete within 10 years. He received a plaque rather than the traditional victrola-shaped award.
Highlights of the CBS televised show, emceed by John Denver, included the stunning Pointer Sisters singing the Best New Artist nominees and besting them all; gospel singer Shirley Caesar muffing the recitation of a Bob Dylan song title nominated in the inspirational gospel category, with "Shot of Love" coming out as "Shoot My Lover"; oft-troubled but recently born-again singer Joe English earning a standing ovation as he grimaced his lyrics, "Some said I was hopeless/Strong hearts just keep going/and that's why I'm still here today;" the children of the late John Coltrane, who died in 1967, accepting the best jazz instrumental performance award for their pioneering father.
The show got under way in traditionally underwhelming fashion as a grim-faced audience tried to sustain its applause while an endless list of presenters and performers flashed across the screen. John Denver was quite smooth, a far cry from the petrified Paul Simon of last year.
There was a clear division within the audience, with the industry on the floor and the fans in the balcony. When heartthrob Rick Springfield, who upset Bruce Springsteen by winning Best Rock Vocal (Male), sang, it was to screaming fans; the glitterati rattled their jewelry, or something like that. Springfield looked ready to switch into his alter ego, Dr. Noah Drake of TV's "General Hospital," if only to revive the moribund front rows.
Rock elicited loud support in its very occasional mentions, such as the Rolling Stones' album cover winning a design award. Hard rocker Ted Nugent came out un-tuxed, chewing gum and with a slightly manic glint in his eye, which may be why there is little rock presence in these awards. Acceptance speeches were mercifully short. The Honesty Award went to Best New Artist Sheena Easton whose Scottish brogue couldn't disguise her glee as she admitted "I wanted this sooo much. I'm glad at the party afterwards I don't have to be gracious to everybody."