Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The 1981 Grammys: Who's On Coke, And Who's Not?

Whenever I start to complain about the Oscars, I always pause and think, "Yeah, but at least they're not the Grammys." From Lips Unsealed:
 In 1982, the Go-Go's were nominated for a Grammy as Best New Artist. At the February event, we were up against Adam and the Ants, James Ingram, Luther Vandross, and Sheena Easton. We were thrilled, and I'm pretty sure we wanted to win, though I remember being more concerned about what I was going to wear to the awards show, which I thought of as the world's glitziest prom ... I looked like Cinderella at the ball. But unlike Cinderella, I started doing coke in the morning and I was out of my head by the time Buster and I stepped out of our limo and hit the red carpet ... Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees, who was doing interviews for Good Morning America, actually took me aside before talking to me and told me to wipe my nose. That was embarrassing.
Well, sure, but it takes one to know one. Like the Bee Gees never did the dust. I mean, come on.

At any rate, it was the 1981 Grammys, and the guest list almost looks like a Cosmic American Blog All-Star Game. We've got representatives from Yacht Rock (Kenny Loggins, Christopher Cross), Cosby Rock (Lionel Richie, Bill Withers, James Ingram, The Pointer Sisters), Fun New Wave Surprises (Adam Ant, The Go-Go's), Aerobic Rock (Sheena Easton), Women Who Rocked ... In The '80s (Pat Benatar) ... there's even a nice shot of Yoko Ono crying as she hears the sound of her dead husband's voice: (Editor's note: clip since removed, but you get the idea.)

"Bette Davis Eyes"? Hey, why not. The Best New Artist award was presented by the Pointer Sisters, who sang a version of "Slow Hand" with new lyrics written especially for the occasion:
Now Sheena Easton had a great year
The "Morning Train" began her hot career
And Luther Vandross sang 'bout "Never Too Much"
And proved he really had that golden touch
The Go-Go's' lips were sealed but they scored
And James Ingram hit the high (board?)
And England and the U.S. danced and danced
When they heard Adam and his rockin' Ants

We want a winner with the slow hand
A nominee who deserves so much
A Best New Artist who will spend some time
A Grammy winner with the real touch
We want to tell you so you understand
We'll open the envelope with a slow hand
So how'd it go? [Edit: This clip's been removed too. Them's the breaks!]
Quincy Jones won five awards that night. Al Jarreau took home three. And the Go-Go's? None. We lost to Sheena Easton as Best New Artist, which didn't bum us out as much as it caused us to lose interest in the rest of the show, and so at the next commercial break we got up and left, which, as we later learned from the network, was a big no-no.
Sheena Easton? Oh, that's right, it's the Grammys. No big loss, Go-Go's. From a longevity standpoint, the winner probably should have been Luther Vandross, who, ironically, was probably the least famous of the five at this time; he was mostly an R&B star and didn't really cross over into the pop market until the '90s. Whatever, where's the bathroom?

Yeah, look at John Denver at the very end there. He's on coke. Wipe that smile off your face, country boy.

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