No, Neil Diamond didn’t bring Barbra Streisand flowers — at least not onstage — but the former schoolmates from Erasmus High in Brooklyn did make GRAMMY history together at the 22nd Annual GRAMMY Awards. The two superstars came together for the first time to perform “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” the song that became an accidental smash duet when an enterprising disc jockey spliced together Diamond and Streisand’s separate but equally winning recordings. For all the heartbreak of the song’s lyrics, this brilliant summit meeting would end in hugs, a kiss and one of the most enthusiastic audience reactions in GRAMMY history.
For all that, despite two nominations, “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” did not win any GRAMMY Awards. Yet, as host Kenny Rogers explained in his monologue, the GRAMMY was now more than ever a true object of desire. “We are entering the second decade of our GRAMMY Award shows on television — and we’ve all come a long way since the first time. And today the GRAMMY is finally established in the minds of everyone as the most meaningful and highly desired award.”
Among those enjoying a particularly meaningful and memorable night were the Doobie Brothers who won Record Of The Year for “What A Fool Believes,” as well Best Pop Vocal Performance By A Duo, Group Or Chorus for Minute By Minute, while “What A Fool Believes” also prevailed in the Song Of The Year category for writers Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins. Michael Jackson also won his first GRAMMY (Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male, for “Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough”) and Bob Dylan won his second — Best Rock Vocal Performance, Male, for “Gotta Serve Somebody.” Dylan’s performance of the song was the best sort of fire-and-brimstone rock gospel — a religious and musical experience in the best possible way. Billy Joel won Album Of The Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male, for his work on 52nd Street.
This was also a memorable night for fine female singers of assorted vintage. The dynamic duo of Debbie Harry and George Burns presented Rickie Lee Jones with the Best New Artist GRAMMY — Jones’ unusually humorous group of fellow nominees were the Blues Brothers and Robin Williams, as well as breakout bands the Knack and Dire Straits. Meanwhile, veteran songstress Dionne Warwick marked a significant comeback, winning her first GRAMMYs in nearly a decade. She won the awards for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female, for “I’ll Never Love This Way Again” — which she also performed on the show with characteristic grace — as well as Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female, for “Déjà Vu.” A thrilled Warwick told the audience, “My grandpa told me a long time ago ‘to those who wait good things do come.’ I thank you for waiting.”
There was no shortage of star power in the house for this GRAMMY Awards telecast. Charlie Daniels opened the show with his GRAMMY-winning “The Devil Went Down To Georgia” despite having broken his arm in five places (fiddle greats Vassar Clements and Buddy Spicher rosined up the bow while Daniels sang). Vocal legends and nominees Sarah Vaughan and Joe Williams represented the jazz contingent in style with their medley of “The Face I Love” and “When You’re Smiling.” And though not winners this night, Sister Sledge was as hot an act as any after the recent world champion Pittsburgh Pirates had adopted “We Are Family” as their theme song. The Sisters turned in a vibrant performance of it.
And for country royalty, Johnny Cash and June Carter playfully presented the first two awards of the night — both country awards. Before doing so, Carter spoke about the global reach of country music, and recalled hearing Cash’s records playing in Israel during their honeymoon. “Is that all you remember about our honeymoon?” the Man in Black memorably asked — a quarter-century before Cash and Carter’s dramatic love story was brought to life on the big screen with Walk The Line.