GRAMMY Rewind: 15th Annual GRAMMY Awards

George Harrison wins Album Of The Year, while Roberta Flack's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" takes Record and Song Of The Year against these nominees
  • The Concert For Bangladesh
  • Photo: Chris Walter/WireImage.com
    Don McLean
  • Photo: Chris Walter/WireImage.com
    Neil Diamond
  • Photo: Chris Walter/WireImage.com
    Roberta Flack
  • Photo: Marty Temme/WireImage.com
    Eagles' Glenn Frey
January 12, 2012 -- 1:16 pm PST
GRAMMY.com

(For a list of 54th GRAMMY Awards nominees, click here.)

Music's Biggest Night, the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards, will air live from Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 12 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.

In the weeks leading up to the telecast, we will take a stroll down music memory lane with GRAMMY Rewind, highlighting the "big four" categories — Album Of The Year, Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year, and Best New Artist — from past awards shows. In the process, we'll examine the winners and the nominees who just missed taking home a GRAMMY, while also shining a light on the artists' careers and the eras in which the recordings were born.

Join us as we take an abbreviated journey through the trajectory of pop music from the 1st Annual GRAMMY Awards in 1959 to last year's 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards.


15th Annual GRAMMY Awards
March 3, 1973

Album Of The Year
Winner: George Harrison & Friends, The Concert For Bangladesh
Neil Diamond, Moods
Don McLean, American Pie
Harry Nilsson, Nilsson Schmilsson
Original Broadway Cast, Jesus Christ Superstar

The Concert For Bangladesh, the first major benefit album, took top honors at the 15th Annual GRAMMY Awards. GRAMMYs were presented to Harrison, who organized the project, and to the featured artists, including Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Billy Preston, Leon Russell, Ravi Shankar, Ringo Starr, and Klaus Voormann, among others. It was the second award in the category for both Harrison and Starr, following a win for the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band five years earlier. Clapton and Dylan would go on to win Album Of The Year on their own in the '90s with Unplugged and Time Out Of Mind, respectively. The Concert…, which was recorded at Madison Square Garden, was the first live album to win the award since Judy Garland's Judy At Carnegie Hall, which was likewise recorded in New York, just one decade earlier.

Jesus Christ Superstar was in the running for the second year in a row, thanks to the release of the original Broadway cast album. The initial concept album had been a finalist in 1971. This was the first Broadway cast album to make the category since Funny Girl in 1964. McLean was nominated for his album American Pie, which spawned the smash title song and the graceful ballad "Vincent." Nilsson was nominated for Nilsson Schmilsson, which contained the hits "Without You" and "Coconut." Diamond was nominated for his album Moods, which spawned the hits "Song Sung Blue" and "Play Me."

Record Of The Year
Winner: Roberta Flack, "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face"
Neil Diamond, "Song Sung Blue"
Don McLean, "American Pie"
Harry Nilsson, "Without You"
Gilbert O'Sullivan, "Alone Again (Naturally)"

For the second year in a row, all five of the category's nominees were No. 1 hits. Flack took Record Of The Year for "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face," which she had introduced on her 1969 album First Take. The album was just a modest hit until director Clint Eastwood featured the romantic song in his 1971 movie Play Misty For Me. That catapulted both the song and the album to No. 1. McLean's "American Pie," an inspired run through recent American pop culture, was one of the most dissected hits in years. Nilsson's "Without You," an elegant torch ballad written by Tom Evans and Pete Ham of Badfinger, won a GRAMMY for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male. O'Sullivan's "Alone Again (Naturally)" was a poignant song about a man at the breaking point. Diamond's "Song Sung Blue" was an irresistible sing-along that had broad appeal. It was the first nomination in this category for all five artists.

Song Of The Year
Winner: Roberta Flack, "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face"
Neil Diamond, "Song Sung Blue"
Don McLean, "American Pie"
Gilbert O'Sullivan, "Alone Again (Naturally)"
Sarah Vaughan, "The Summer Knows"

The Kingston Trio was the first major act to record Ewan MacColl's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" (called "The First Time" on their 1963 album New Frontier). But it took Flack's recording, and its use in the movie Play Misty For Me, for the song to become a hit. MacColl's song wasn't the only nominee that owed its success to a hit film. Michel Legrand conducted "The Summer Knows," which he co-wrote with Marilyn and Alan Bergman, in Summer Of '42. An instrumental version of the song by GRAMMY winner Peter Nero became a hit. Performed by GRAMMY winner Vaughan, the song also nominated for Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) award. (The Bergmans would go on to win in this category two years later for another movie theme, "The Way We Were," which they wrote with Marvin Hamlisch.) The other nominees, all of whom appeared in the Record Of The Year category (and all of which were written solely by the artist), were O'Sullivan's "Alone Again (Naturally)," McLean's "American Pie" and Diamond's "Song Sung Blue."

Best New Artist
Winner: America
Harry Chapin
Eagles
Loggins And Messina
John Prine

America topped the Billboard Hot 100 in 1972 with "A Horse With No Name." The Eagles and Loggins And Messina also had Top 10 hits with "Witchy Woman" and "Your Mama Don't Dance," respectively. Though America won this award, the Eagles took the GRAMMY for Record Of The Year five years later with "Hotel California." Chapin's "Taxi" was only a moderate hit, but the story of the song was so compelling and distinctive that it made an impression on GRAMMY voters. The final nominee was singer/songwriter Prine, who released two critically hailed albums, John Prine and Diamonds In The Rough, in the eligibility period.

Come back to GRAMMY.com Jan. 17 as we revisit the 20th Annual GRAMMY Awards. Meanwhile, visit The Recording Academy's social networks on Facebook and Twitter for updates and breaking GRAMMY news.

 

 

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