The silver anniversary telecast of the Grammy Awards last night was very much like the past year in music: humdrum, predictable, flashy yet slightly tarnished.
A soulless Los Angeles studio group, Toto, walked off with seven awards, while many of the artists who matter in the '80s (Prince, Marshall Crenshaw, the Clash, John Anderson Chico Freeman, to name a few) never even made it to the finals. After working in relative obscurity for almost a decade, Toto reacted gleefully as its hit single "Rosanna," the oversynthesized easy-rocking love song from the album of the year "Toto IV," was named record of the year and also won awards for instrumental arrangement for vocals and for vocal arrangement; the group also won nonclassical producer of the year honors."Toto IV" was named best engineered recording, and Toto guitarist Steve Lukather shared a best rhythm-and-blues song Grammy with Jay Graydon and Bill Champlin for "Turn Your Love Around."
"My brother Steve has a girlfriend named Rosanna," explained Jeff Porcaro, the group's drummer. "She was hanging around quite a bit when we were putting the album together. That's how we thought up the song, but it's not autobiographical or anything."
A total of 62 winners were elected by secret ballot by the 6,000 members of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences. The eligibility year was Oct. 1, 1981, to Sept. 30, 1982.
There were few surprises or upsets (there were plenty of disappointments), but that's nothing new for an awards ceremony that has brought little glory to itself over the years through its consistently conservative choices (all you need to remember is that the Fifth Dimension won more Grammys than the Beatles).
Willie Nelson, who went into the show with four Grammys, won a best country male vocal award for his tender love ballad "Always on My Mind," which was named best country song and song of the year. "Alabama Jubilee" by guitarist Roy Clark won in the country instrumental category.
One of the few exhibitions of warmth on the part of the well-heeled audience came when former Washingtonian Marvin Gaye accepted one of his two awards for "Sexual Healing," the hit single from his brilliant comeback album. Gaye won for male vocal R & B performance and also for the instrumental version. He received a standing ovation when he came out to perform the song.
In announcing that award, Rick James proved to be somewhat graceless in dealing with his cohost, disco singer Grace Jones. Snuggling in on her, he informed the audience, "I'm just trying to get some--you all got to excuse me." He then directed a comment about Jones' imposing hat to a true artist in the audience: "Stevie Wonder, you should see this hat." Don't look for James next year.
Jennifer Holliday, the sudden star of "Dreamgirls," improved on last year's guest performance of her hit Broadway hit, "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going," by winning this year's award for female R & B performance. Her debut album is due out shortly; meanwhile, "Dreamgirls" won a Grammy for best cast show album.
Comedian Richard Pryor won his fifth Grammy for his "Live on the Sunset Strip" album. Up-and-coming Eddie Murphy, star of "Saturday Night Live" and "48 Hrs.," used the opportunity for a little mugging of his own. "Rich won? I ain't leaving here without a Grammy. Seriously, folks, somebody's giving up their Grammy tonight."
Composer John Williams, who won 11 Grammys in years past for film music such as "Superman" and "Star Wars," won three more for his music to "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial." The album scored as best original film score, while the "Flying" track earned best instrumental arrangement and best instrumental composition honors.
First-time winners included Melissa Manchester, best female pop vocal for "You Should Hear How She Talks About You," and Juice Newton for best country vocal female with "Break It to Me Gently." Country superstars Alabama won for best group vocal, while heartland rocker John Cougar won the best male rock vocal Grammy for "Hurt So Good," his No. 1 hit from the album "American Fool." Pat Benatar won the female rock vocalist award for the second year in a row with "Shadows of the Night." Svelte crooner Lionel Richie, formerly of the Commodores, won the best pop male vocal performance for his first solo single, "Truly."
Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes took best pop vocal by a duo or group for "Up Where We Belong," an Oscar-nominated song from the film "An Officer and a Gentleman." It was the first Grammy of Cocker's long career. Warnes said their partnership was inspired by Cocker's rousing performance with the Crusaders on last year's Grammys. She added that her boyfriend compared the partnership with "Guinevere and the old troll under the bridge" but that they cut the award-winning song in one day at the studio. "I was told it was the weirdest pairing ever," said Warnes. "But we did it and it turned out beautifully."
"You probably missed the tune" in the film, Cocker told reporters. "There wasn't much of it, was there?" The award for rock vocal performance by a duo or group went to Survivor for "Eye of the Tiger," the inescapable theme song of "Rocky III."
As usual, little of the new music was rewarded: The instrumental award went to Flock of Seagulls for "D.N.A." while Australia's Men at Work, who performed on the show, sounded tinny, stiff, nervous and almost unintelligible but nevertheless walked off with the award for best new artist for their debut album, "Business As Usual."
In the classical field, the late pianist Glenn Gould's version of Bach's "The Goldberg Variations," produced just before his death and released just a few months ago, won best album and best instrumental soloist Grammys. Ironically, a 1956 Gould recording of "The Goldberg Variations" was inducted into the NARAS Hall of Fame, instituted by the academy to honor recordings released before the Grammy Awards began in 1958. So far, 41 have been chosen.
Gospel singer Al Green took best contemporary soul gospel honors for "Higher Plane" and capped that with the gospel award (traditional) for "Precious Soul."
The Pat Metheny Group won a jazz fusion Grammy for "Offramp." The Dazz Band's "Let It Whip" and Earth Wind & Fire's "Wanna Be With You" tied for best rhythm-and-blues vocal performance. The other jazz awards--to Mel Torme, Sarah Vaughan, Miles Davis, Manhattan Transfer, Phil Woods and Count Basie--were fairly predictable.
One might have suspected a long evening when 25 minutes passed before the first award was presented. Instead there was a draggy piano summit with Ray Charles, Count Basie, Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard struggling through "What'd I Say." Little Richard, now a born-again preacher, turned the lyrics inward: "Found God in '74 /don't sing rock and roll no more." He was right; only the pencil mustache remains of the old fire.
When eternally boyish host John Denver finally got around to announcing an award with, "Ladies and gentlemen, you ain't seen nothing yet," he was prescient. CBS gave the Grammys a full three hours. In previous years it had been scheduled for two hours but usually ran long. So instead, there were fewer on-camera awards and more generally dreadful musical numbers even as performed by such popular entertainers as Linda Ronstadt, Willie Nelson, Lena Horne, Kenny Rogers, the Spinners, Men at Work, the Moonglows, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Lena Horne, Bill Monroe, Leontyne Price, The Blackwood Brothers, Crystal Gayle, Miles Davis, Alabama, Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes.
The overall production, relying heavily on old clips and unimaginatively staged performances, was fairly leaden, but then again, so was the most rewarded music of the night.
Here is the list of the other winners at the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences' 25th annual Grammy awards last night at the Shrine Auditorium:
Pop Instrumental Performance--"Chariots of Fire," Ernie Watts.
Best Gospel Performance Contemporary--"Age to Age," Amy Grant.
Best Gospel Performance, Traditional--"I'm Following You," Blackwood Brothers.
Best Inspirational Performance--"He Set My Life to Music," Barbara Mandrell.
Best Traditional Blues Recording--"Alright Again," Clarence Gatemouse Brown.
Best Ethnic or Traditional Folk Recording--"Queen Ida And the Bontemps Zydeco Band on Tour," Queen Ida.
Best Latin Recording--"Machito and His Salsa Big Band '82," Machito.
Best Recording for Children--"In Harmony 2," Lucy Simon and David Levine, album producers.
Best Spoken Word, Documentary or Drama Recording--"Raiders Of The Lost Ark: The Movie On Record," Tom Voegeli, album producer.
Video of the Year--"Olivia Physical," Olivia Newton-John.
Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Female--"Gershwin Live," Sarah Vaughan.
Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Male--"An Evening With George Shearing and Mel Torme," Mel Torme.
Jazz Vocal Performance, Duo or Group--"Route 66," The Manhattan Transfer.
Jazz Instrumental Performance, Soloist--"We Want Miles," Miles Davis.
Jazz Instrumental Performance, Group--"'More' Live," Phil Woods Quartet.
Jazz Instrumental Performance, Big Band--"Warm Breeze," Count Basie & His Orchestra.
Album Package--"Get Closer," Kosh, with Ron Larsen, art director.
Album Notes--"Bunny Berigan ('Giants of Jazz')"
Historical Album--"The Tommy Dorsey-Frank Sinatra Sessions Vols. 1, 2, 3," Alan Dell, Ethel Gabriel, Don Wardell, producers.
Classical Orchestral Recording--"Mahler: Symphony No. 7 in E Minor ('Song of the Night')," James Levine conducting The Chicago Symphony.
Opera Recording--"Wagner: Der Ring Des Nibelungen," Pierre Boulez conducting the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra.
Choral Performance (other than opera)--"Berlioz: La Damnation de Faust," Margaret Hillis, Chorus Master, Vienna State Opera Chorus.
Best Chamber Music Performance--"Brahms: The Sonatas For Clarinet & Piano, Op. 120," Richard Stoltzman, Richard Goode.
Best Classical Performance Instrumental Soloist or Soloists (with orchestra)--"Elgar Concerto For Violin In B Minor," Itzhak Perlman.
Best Classical Vocal Soloist Performance--"Verdi: Arias," Leontyne Price.
Best Engineered Recording, Classical (an Engineer's Award)--"Mahler: Symphony No. 7 in E Minor," Paul Goodman, engineer.
Classical Producer of the Year--Robert Woods.