45 Years Ago: Fleetwood Mac and Eagles Shine at 1978 Grammys
The Grammy Awards ceremony held on Feb. 23, 1978, didn't just celebrate the previous year's music releases, It also commemorated the event's two decades in existence.
This was also the first year the ceremony was hosted by John Denver, who would go on to host five more times. (Ironically, he would not win a Grammy himself until 1998, four months after his death in a plane crash.) "I am personally sharing my dressing room with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris," Denver quipped that year. "Thank God I'm a country boy."
Denver won the crowd over by singing a medley of the Song of the Year nominees, effortlessly transitioning between Glen Campbell's "Southern Nights" to Crystal Gayle's "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue," Barbra Streisand's "Evergreen" (the theme song for the 1976 film, A Star Is Born), Carly Simon's "Nobody Does It Better" and Eagles' "Hotel California" — a performance perhaps worthy of a Grammy itself.
Watch John Denver Sing a Medley of Grammy Song of the Year Nominees in 1978
Album of the Year, arguably the most coveted annual award, was presented by all three members of Crosby, Stills & Nash. "Does anybody have any idea what it took to get [David] Crosby into a tuxedo?" Graham Nash joked, adding that they looked like "three giant penguins." The award was given to Fleetwood Mac for Rumours – with no explanation needed.
The LP had been an instant success when it was released in February 1977, shooting to the No. 1 spot and selling over 10 million copies worldwide within a month of its debut.
"I'd like to take this opportunity in thanking everyone that's done such a lot for us," Mick Fleetwood said on the stage. "You up there, [gesturing toward the sky], the record company and the people that work closely with the band. Thank you very much, we love you." Exit music began playing as the band started for their seats, but Stevie Nicks made sure to clarify the record company Fleetwood had mentioned: "Warner Bros.," she said, "thank you!"
Watch Fleetwood Mac Accept Grammy for Album of the Year in 1978
Recognition for Rumours may not have been a huge surprise, but Fleetwood Mac was nevertheless up against some convincing competition: Eagles' Hotel California, Steely Dan's Aja, James Taylor's JT and John Williams' Star Wars soundtrack were also nominated.
The win for Rumours was unique, in that it became one of only a handful of LPs in Grammy history to win exactly one category – Album of the Year – and nothing else.
Hotel California, another enormously successful release, would get its due. The title track won Record of the Year (beating out Fleetwood Mac's "Go Your Own Way," and Linda Ronstadt's "Blue Bayou," among others). "New Kid in Town" also earned Best Arrangement for Voices. The Eagles did not attend the ceremony that year, but in 2016, they appeared at the Grammys to pay tribute to their recently deceased bandmate Glenn Frey. Nearly four decades later, they finally accepted the Grammy Award for "Hotel California."
Rumours was also beaten in the Non-Classical Best Engineered Recording category, where Steely Dan's Aja came out on top. John Williams' Star Wars soundtrack claimed both Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or a Television Special and Best Instrumental Composition for the "Main Title."
Ronstadt's eighth album, Simple Dreams, won Best Album Package, and Peter Asher took home Producer of the Year. Muddy Waters' "Hard Again" earned Best Ethnic or Traditional Folk Recording — an award he would win six times throughout his career — while Steve Martin won his very first Grammy, Best Comedy Album for Let's Get Small.
Best New Artist was awarded to Debby Boone, daughter of Pat Boone, edging out Shaun Cassidy, Stephen Bishop, Foreigner and Andy Gibb. The Bee Gees took home Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Group for "How Deep Is Your Love." James Taylor secured Best Male Pop Vocal Performance with "Handy Man."
But perhaps the most shocking moment of the evening was when another coveted award, Song of the Year, was given to both Streisand's "Evergreen," co-written with Paul Williams, and Boone's "You Light Up My Life," written by Joe Brooks. It was the first and only time a tie occurred in the category.
Brooks pointed out in his acceptance remarks that several music professionals present in the room that evening had turned down the song before it became a hit. He had the last word: "This tastes so sweet."
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