21st Annual GRAMMY Awards (1978)

“I look out here at all the members of The Recording Academy and I see a lot of silks and satins and jewelry and new hair styles — and gee, the ladies look fantastic too,” host John Denver (wearing a tux with bell-bottomed pants) said with a smile at the start of the 21st Annual GRAMMY Awards show, the last ceremony held in the ’70s. Indeed, the music industry really was growing up in a number of fascinating ways. “Twenty-One is a very special age,” Denver noted. “Twenty-One is when you come of age.” Among those coming along for the ride on this GRAMMY night were winners from A Taste Of Honey of “Boogie Oogie Oogie” fame — who won Best New Artist beating out the likes of Elvis Costello, the Cars, Chris Rea and Toto too — to legendary pianist Vladimir Horowitz who received two classical awards. Where else in the world besides on the GRAMMYs would Johnny “Take This Job And Shove It” Paycheck and the great tenor Jan Peerce be found next to each other on the bill?

Disco had very much come of age as GRAMMY 21 intermittently turned into Studio 54. The entrenchment of disco by 1978 had become a cultural phenomenon. Manhattan’s Studio 54 was the most high-profile nightspot in the country; Saturday Night Fever took the nation’s theaters by storm; and artists of all stripes — including such venerable rock acts as the Rolling Stones and Rod Stewart — were recording disco and releasing 12" club mixes. Disco colored the fashions (all those satins and silks Denver referred to in his opening remarks) and sense of the times, and led to Denver awkwardly (though endearingly) appropriating John Travolta’s Fever dance moves for his performance of the Bee Gees' “Stayin’ Alive” during a tribute to the year’s Song Of The Year nominees. Perhaps not surprisingly, the Album Of The Year GRAMMY was bestowed upon the smash hit Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.

The first performance of the night was the glitzy ode to the disco lifestyle “I Love The Nightlife” by Alicia Bridges. Dionne Warwick and Quincy Jones presented the GRAMMY award for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female, to Donna Summer — who faced considerable competition from nominees such as Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole, Chaka Khan and Bridges herself — for “Last Dance.”

In the midst of the discothon, the GRAMMYs managed to do what it always does best — highlight all kinds of music, including Chuck Mangione’s flugelhorn hit “Feels So Good,” and a rousing number by Oscar Peterson, winner of Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Soloist (Montreaux ’77 — Oscar Peterson Jam).

In addition to Johnny Paycheck’s biting state of the working man performance, country music was well represented by presenters who spoke their minds. Before announcing that his future fellow Highwayman Willie Nelson had won the GRAMMY for Best Country Vocal Performance, Male (“Georgia On My Mind”) Kris Kristofferson, with wife Rita Coolidge at his side, told the crowd, “I think there ought to be a special award given every year to George Jones and Jerry Lee Lewis just for being who they are.” Glen Campbell and then flame Tanya Tucker did a very special picking and singing presentation of the award for Best Country Vocal Performance By A Duo Or Group that became a little more special when it turned out that neither of the beloved country outlaws Waylon Jennings or Willie Nelson were there to pick up the award for the now-iconic “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys.” “Well, as most of you know, Waylon and Willie wouldn’t walk a mile to see a pissant eat a bale of hay, but we congratulate them anyway and accept it on their behalf.”

And perhaps in a moment of nostalgia for some old-fashioned rock, The Academy recognized Steely Dan’s “FM (No Static At All)” — from the movie celebrating the age of free-form radio — with a Best Engineered Recording, Non-Classical, for Roger Nichols and Al Schmitt.

Another of the evening’s big winners was also not in attendance — Billy Joel, who won both Record Of The Year for “Just The Way You Are” along with his producer Phil Ramone, and Song Of The Year for the same classic romantic ballad. Barry Manilow definitely was there to pick up his only GRAMMY to date for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male, for “Copacabana (At The Copa).” And if the experience wasn’t memorable enough, Manilow received his award from Steve Martin — winner of the Best Comedy Recording for A Wild And Crazy Guy — who took the stage in a tux with no pants, which were later handed to him in dry-cleaner wrapping. Martin went on to offer his own memorable thanks, including a shout out to his own manager “who has believed in me ever since the first album started selling.”

The most inspiring performer of the night, however, may have been 96-year-old Eubie Blake, who would arguably have been named Best New Artist of 1921 had there been a GRAMMY Awards then. Blake performed his classic “I’m Just Wild About Harry” with dancing girls several generations his junior, and then presented the Best New Artist award with Denver. “Boy,” Blake said with a youthful smile on his face, “I’m having the time of my life up here.”

Record Of The Year
Just The Way You Are

Billy Joel

Billy Joel, artist. Phil Ramone, producer.

Album Of The Year
Saturday Night Fever - Soundtrack

Various Artists

* Bee Gees (Barry Gibb*, Maurice Gibb*, Robin Gibb*), David Shire*, K.C. And The Sunshine Band (Harry Wayne Casey*, Richard Finch*, Fermin Goypisolo, Robert Johnson, Jerome Smith), Kool And The Gang (Robert "Kool" Bell, Ronald Bell, George Brown, Larry Gittens, Robert Mickens, Otha Nash, Claydes Smith, Dennis Thomas, Rickey West), MFSB (Don Renaldo), Ralph MacDonald*, Tavares (Butch Tavares, Chubby Tavares, Pooch Tavares, Ralph Tavares, Tiny Tavares), The Trammps (Jimmy Ellis, Robert Upchurch, Harold Wade, Stanley Wade, Earl Young), Walter Murphy & Yvonne Elliman, artists. Albhy Galuten, Arif Mardin, Bee Gees* (Barry Gibb*, Maurice Gibb*, Robin Gibb*), Bill Oakes, Bobby Martin, Broadway Eddie, David Shire*, Freddie Perren, Harry Wayne Casey*, K.G. Productions, Karl Richardson, Ralph MacDonald*, Richard Finch*, Ron Kersey, Thomas J. Valentino & William Salter, producers.

Song Of The Year
Just The Way You Are

Billy Joel, songwriter (Billy Joel)

Billy Joel, songwriter.

Best New Artist
A Taste Of Honey

A Taste Of Honey

Taste Of Honey (Donald R. Johnson, Janice M. Johnson, Perry Kibble, Hazel Payne), artist.

Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female
You Needed Me

Anne Murray

Anne Murray, artist.

Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male
Copacabana (At The Copa)

Barry Manilow

Barry Manilow, artist.

Best Pop Vocal Performance By A Duo, Group Or Chorus
Saturday Night Fever

Bee Gees

Bee Gees (Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Robin Gibb), artist.

Best Pop Instrumental Performance
Children Of Sanchez

Chuck Mangione

Chuck Mangione, artist.

Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female
Last Dance

Donna Summer

Donna Summer, artist.

Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male
On Broadway

George Benson

George Benson, artist.

Best R&B Vocal Performance By A Duo, Group Or Chorus
All 'n All

Earth, Wind & Fire

Earth, Wind & Fire (Philip Bailey, Larry Dunn, Johnny Graham, Ralph Johnson, Al McKay, Fred White, Maurice White, Verdine White, Andrew Woolfolk), artist.

Best R&B Instrumental Performance

Earth, Wind & Fire

Earth, Wind & Fire (Philip Bailey, Larry Dunn, Johnny Graham, Ralph Johnson, Al McKay, Fred White, Maurice White, Verdine White, Andrew Woolfolk), artist.

Best Rhythm & Blues Song
Last Dance

Paul Jabara, songwriter (Donna Summer)

Paul Jabara, songwriter.

Best Country Vocal Performance, Female
Here You Come Again

Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton, artist.

Best Country Vocal Performance, Male
Willie Nelson
Georgia On My Mind

Willie Nelson, artist.

Best Country Vocal Performance By A Duo Or Group
Willie Nelson
Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys

Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson

Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson, artists.

Best Country Instrumental Performance
One O'Clock Jump

Asleep At The Wheel

Asleep At The Wheel (Ray Benson, Link Davis, Floyd Domino, Tony Garnier, Daniel Levin, Bill Mabry, Lucky Oceans, Chris O'Connell, Leroy Preston, Pat Ryan, Andy Stein, Chris York), artist.

Best Country Song
The Gambler

Don Schlitz, songwriter (Kenny Rogers)

Don Schlitz, songwriter.

Best Gospel Performance, Contemporary Or Inspirational
What A Friend

Larry Hart

Larry Hart, artist.

Best Gospel Performance, Traditional

The Happy Goodman Family

Happy Goodman Family (Howard Goodman, Rusty Goodman, Sam Goodman, Vestal Goodman), artist.

Best Soul Gospel Performance, Contemporary
Live In London

Andrae Crouch & The Disciples

Andrae Crouch, artist.

Best Soul Gospel Performance, Traditional
Live And Direct

Mighty Clouds Of Joy

Mighty Clouds Of Joy (Elmo Franklin, Joe Ligon, Johnny Martin, Richard Wallace), artist.

Best Inspirational Performance
Happy Man

B.J. Thomas

B.J. Thomas, artist.

Best Ethnic Or Traditional Recording
I'm Ready

Muddy Waters

Muddy Waters, artist.

Best Latin Recording
Homenaje a Beny More

Tito Puente

Tito Puente, artist.

Best Recording For Children
The Muppet Show

(The Muppets)

Jim Henson, producer.

Best Comedy Recording
Steve Martin
A Wild And Crazy Guy

Steve Martin, artist.

Best Spoken Word Recording
Citizen Kane

Orson Welles

Orson Welles, narrator.

Best Instrumental Composition
John Williams
Theme From Close Encounters Of The Third Kind

John Williams, composer.

Best Album Of Original Score Written For A Motion Picture Or A Television Special
John Williams
Close Encounters Of The Third Kind

John Williams, composer.

Best Cast Show Album
Ain't Misbehavin'

Various Artists

Thomas Z. Shepard, producer.

Best Jazz Vocal Performance
All Fly Home

Al Jarreau

Al Jarreau, artist.

Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Soloist
Montreaux '77 - Oscar Peterson Jam

Oscar Peterson

Oscar Peterson, soloist.

Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Group
Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Big Band
Live In Munich

Thad Jones & Mel Lewis

Mel Lewis & Thad Jones, artists.

Best Instrumental Arrangement
Quincy Jones
The Wiz Main Title - Overture Part One

Various Artists

Quincy Jones & Robert (Bob) Freedman, arrangers.

Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocal(s)
Got To Get You Into My Life

Earth, Wind & Fire

Maurice White, arranger.

Best Arrangement For Voices
Stayin' Alive

Bee Gees

Bee Gees (Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Robin Gibb), arrangers.

Best Album Package
Boys In The Trees

Carly Simon

Johnny B. Lee & Tony Lane, art directors.

Best Album Notes
A Bing Crosby Collection, Vols. I & II

Bing Crosby

Michael Brooks, album notes writer.

Best Historical Repackage Album
The Lester Young Story, Vol. 3

Lester Young

Michael Brooks, producer.

Best Engineered Recording - Non-Classical
Al Schmitt
FM (No Static At All)

Steely Dan

Al Schmitt & Roger Nichols, engineers.

Producer Of The Year
Bee Gees, Albhy Galuten & Karl Richardson

Bee Gees, Albhy Galutin & Karl Richardson

Albhy Galuten, Bee Gees (Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Robin Gibb) & Karl Richardson, producers.

Best Classical Album
Brahms: Concerto For Violin In D

Itzhak Perlman, violin; Carlo Maria Giulini, conductor

Carlo Maria Giulini & Itzhak Perlman, artists. Christopher Bishop, producer.

Best Classical Orchestral Performance
Beethoven: Symphonies (9) (Complete)

Herbert von Karajan, conductor

Herbert von Karajan, conductor. Michel Glotz, producer.

Best Opera Recording
Lehar: The Merry Widow

Julius Rudel, conductor

Julius Rudel, conductor. George Sponhaltz & John Coveney, producers.

Best Choral Performance, Classical (Other Than Opera)
Georg Solti
Beethoven: Missa Solemnis

Georg Solti, conductor; Margaret Hillis, choral director

Margaret Hillis, choir director. Georg Solti, conductor.

Best Chamber Music Performance
Beethoven: Sonatas For Violin And Piano

Itzhak Perlman, violin; Vladimir Ashkenazy, piano

Itzhak Perlman & Vladimir Ashkenazy, artists.

Best Classical Performance, Instrumental Soloist(s) (With Orchestra)
Vladimir Horowitz
Rachmaninoff: Con. No. 3 In D Minor For Piano (Horowitz Golden Jubilee)
Best Classical Performance, Instrumental Soloist(s) (Without Orchestra)
Vladimir Horowitz
The Horowitz Concerts 1977/78
Best Classical Vocal Soloist Performance
Luciano Pavarotti - Hits From Lincoln Center

Luciano Pavarotti

Luciano Pavarotti, artist.

Best Engineered Recording, Classical
Varese: Ameriques/Arcana/Ionisation (Boulez Conducts Varese)

Pierre Boulez, conductor

Arthur Kendy, Edward (Bud) T. Graham & Ray Moore, engineers.