26th Annual GRAMMY Awards (1983)

As visionary as he may have been, George Orwell strangely did not write at all about the 26th Annual GRAMMY Awards in his classic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. For better or worse, this GRAMMY show occurred not during utter domination by a totalitarian state, but rather during a year significantly dominated by the continuing rise of MTV and the record-breaking commercial impact of Michael Jackson.

John Denver — hosting his fifth show — wasted no time on a monologue, promising “a show so hot it’s going to pop if we don’t get right into it.” Stressing that it had been an amazing year for women in music, he got right to the first performance of the night — Donna Summer singing “She Works Hard For The Money.” Like so much of the rest of the telecast, Summer’s opening performance — presented as a video-like production number — reflected the look and feel of music’s new video age. In fact, throughout the evening nominees were announced with the help of extended video clips, as if audiences couldn’t get enough of the videos that were now beginning to drive so much of the music business, commercially and artistically.

Denver then took the stage to explain that the big words of the past year had been “videos, Boy George and Michael…” leaving the audience to loudly scream out “Jackson” with Jackson himself seated in the front row where he would spend the night between his date Brooke Shields and diminutive “Webster” star Emmanuel Lewis, with producer Quincy Jones sitting nearby. This proved convenient, since Jackson and Jones would end up taking quite a few trips to the stage to accept GRAMMYs during the next few hours.

The first award of the evening — Song Of The Year, presented by esteemed authorities Stevie Wonder and Bob Dylan — did not go to Jackson for “Billy Jean” or “Beat It,” but rather to Police chief Sting for “Every Breath You Take.” The Police were on tour, but in their absence, Dylan announced, “We’ll take it.” The song would also win the Police a GRAMMY this night for Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal, and “Synchronicity” would win Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal — leaving co-presenters Alice Cooper and Grace Jones to accept for them.

Joan Rivers and Culture Club were also not in the house, but appeared live from London via satellite along with a Margaret Thatcher impersonator to read the GRAMMY rules. Rivers wryly explained the reason for reviewing the rules: “Every one of the nominees out there should know why they lost out to Michael Jackson.” Rivers also informed Culture Club’s gender-bending frontman Boy George that he looked like “Brooke Shields on steroids.” For his part, Boy George came off as a perfect, cross-dressing gentleman.

Explicitly paying tribute to music’s new video age, John Denver noted that while music videos were non-existent just a couple of years ago, it had “forged ahead to revitalize and totally reawaken the music industry.” That said, an absent Duran Duran were awarded the first-ever GRAMMY for Best Video Album (Duran Duran), having already won the Best Video, Short Form, for “Girls On Film/Hungry Like A Wolf” earlier in the evening.

One outstanding performance put the spotlight on a founding rock father from well before the birth of video — Chuck Berry, who received a Lifetime Achievement Award, along with the late Arturo Toscanini and the late Charlie Parker. Since Berry was not late, but rather very much alive, he not only accepted the award, but also rocked the house with some of his past classics aided by guitar slinging help from Stevie Ray Vaughan and George Thorogood.

Other notable performances, however, reflected the videogenic nature of ’80s music, including Irene Cara’s “Flashdance — What A Feeling,” which took home the GRAMMY for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female, as the title song from the smash film that itself demonstrated Hollywood’s reaction to MTV-like editing. Best New Artist nominees Eurythmics also made a vivid impression by performing “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)” with Annie Lennox dressed as Elvis Presley, yet another moment in a night of exceptional cross-dressing. As Boy George memorably noted in his acceptance speech when Culture Club were named Best New Artist, “Thank you America, you’ve got taste, style and you know a good drag queen when you see one.”

Another notable piece of history was acknowledged by then Academy President Michael Melvoin who, after holding up a vinyl record, produced a smaller, shinier object and announced excitedly to the world, “This is the new compact disc.” The soon-to-be widespread CD had been introduced to consumers in the early ’80s and was still dwarfed in sales by LPs and cassettes.

Ultimately, though, this night proved the beginning of the King of Pop’s reign, so much so that Michael Jackson began inviting other people up from the audience to share the GRAMMY stage with him as he accepted awards — first his label boss Walter Yetnikoff, and later his three sisters Rebbie, La Toya and future GRAMMY winner Janet. “When something like this happens, you want those who are very dear to you up here with you,” Jackson said. He also explained, having won his seventh award of the night — which he noted was a new record — he would now actually take his glasses off at the personal request of his friend Katharine Hepburn.

Appropriately, the night ended with Jackson winning his eighth and final GRAMMY of the night when “Beat It” was named Record Of The Year. “I love all the girls in the balcony,” Jackson declared to all the cheers from on high. 

Record Of The Year
Album Of The Year
Song Of The Year
Every Breath You Take

Sting, songwriter (The Police)

Sting, songwriter.

Best New Artist
Culture Club

Culture Club

Culture Club (Boy George, Michael Craig, Roy Hay, Jon Moss), artist.

Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female
Flashdance - What A Feeling

Irene Cara

Irene Cara, artist.

Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male
Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal
Every Breath You Take

The Police

Police (Stewart Copeland, Sting, Andy Summers), artist.

Best Pop Instrumental Performance
Being With You

George Benson

George Benson, artist.

Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female
Love Is A Battlefield

Pat Benatar

Pat Benatar, artist.

Best Rock Vocal Performance, Male
Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal

The Police

Police (Stewart Copeland, Sting, Andy Summers), artist.

Best Rock Instrumental Performance
Brimstone And Treacle

Sting, artist.

Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female
Chaka Khan

Chaka Khan

Chaka Khan, artist.

Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male
Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal
Ain't Nobody

Rufus & Chaka Khan

Chaka Khan & Rufus (Hawk, Tony Maiden, Kevin Murphy, John Robinson, Bobby Watson), artists.

Best R&B Instrumental Performance
Best Rhythm & Blues Song
Michael Jackson
Billie Jean

Michael Jackson, songwriter.

Best Jazz Fusion Performance, Vocal Or Instrumental
Pat Metheny

Pat Metheny Group

Pat Metheny Group (Mark Egan, Dan Gottlieb, Lyle Mays, Pat Metheny), artist.

Best Country Vocal Performance, Female
A Little Good News

Anne Murray

Anne Murray, artist.

Best Country Vocal Performance, Male

Lee Greenwood

Lee Greenwood, artist.

Best Country Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal
The Closer You Get...


Alabama (Jeff Cook, Teddy Gentry, Mark Herndon, Randy Owen), artist.

Best Country Instrumental Performance

The New South

New South (J.D. Crowe, Jerry Douglas, Todd Phillips, Tony Rice, Ricky Skaggs), artist.

Best New Country Song
Stranger In My House

Mike Reid, songwriter (Ronnie Milsap)

Mike Reid, songwriter.

Best Gospel Performance, Female
Ageless Medley

Amy Grant

Amy Grant, artist.

Best Gospel Performance, Male
Walls Of Glass

Russ Taff

Russ Taff, artist.

Best Gospel Performance By A Duo Or Group
More Than Wonderful

Sandi Patti & Larnelle Harris

Larnelle Harris & Sandi Patti, artists.

Best Soul Gospel Performance, Female
We Sing Praises

Sandra Crouch

Sandra Crouch, artist.

Best Soul Gospel Performance, Male
I'll Rise Again

Al Green

Al Green, artist.

Best Soul Gospel Performance By A Duo Or Group
I'm So Glad I'm Standing Here Today

Barbara Mandrell & Bobby Jones

Barbara Mandrell & Bobby Jones, artists.

Best Inspirational Performance
He's A Rebel

Donna Summer

Donna Summer, artist.

Best Latin Pop Performance
Me Enamore

Jose Feliciano

Jose Feliciano, artist.

Best Tropical Latin Performance
On Broadway

Tito Puente & His Latin Ensemble

Tito Puente, artist.

Best Mexican-American Performance

Los Lobos

Los Lobos (David Hidalgo, Conrad Lozano, Louie Perez, Cesar Rosas), artist.

Best Traditional Blues Recording
B.B. King
Blues 'N' Jazz

B.B. King, artist.

Best Ethnic Or Traditional Folk Recording
I'm Here

Clifton Chenier & His Red Hot Louisiana Band

Clifton Chenier, artist.

Best Recording For Children
Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

Michael Jackson, artist. Quincy Jones, producer.

Best Comedy Recording
Eddie Murphy: Comedian

Eddie Murphy

Eddie Murphy, artist.

Best Spoken Word Or Non-Musical Recording
Copland: A Lincoln Portrait

William Warfield

William Warfield, narrator.

Best Instrumental Composition
Love Theme From Flashdance

Various Artists (Helen St. John)

Giorgio Moroder, composer.

Best Album Of Original Score Written For A Motion Picture Or A Television Special

Various Artists

Craig Krampf, Dennis Matkosky, Douglas Cotler, Duane Hitchings, Giorgio Moroder, Irene Cara, Jerry Hey, Keith Forsey, Kim Carnes, Michael Boddicker, Michael Sembello, Phil Ramone, Richard Gilbert, Ronald Magness & Shandi Sinnamon, composers.

Best Cast Show Album
Cats (Complete Original Broadway Cast Recording)

Original Broadway Cast

Andrew Lloyd Webber, producer.

Best Video, Short Form
Girls On Film/Hungry Like The Wolf

Duran Duran

Duran Duran (Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes, Andy Taylor, John Taylor, Roger Taylor), artist.

Best Video Album
Duran Duran

Duran Duran

Duran Duran (Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes, Andy Taylor, John Taylor, Roger Taylor), artist.

Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Female
Ella Fitzgerald
The Best Is Yet To Come

Ella Fitzgerald, artist.

Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Male
Top Drawer

Mel Tormé

Mel Tormé, artist.

Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Duo Or Group
Why Not!

The Manhattan Transfer

Manhattan Transfer (Cheryl Bentyne, Tim Hauser, Alan Paul, Janis Siegel), artist.

Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Soloist
Think Of One

Wynton Marsalis

Wynton Marsalis, soloist.

Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Group
At The Vanguard

The Phil Woods Quartet

Phil Woods, artist.

Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Big Band
All In Good Time

Rob McConnell & The Boss Brass

Rob McConnell, artist.

Best Arrangement On An Instrumental
Summer Sketches '82

Dave Grusin

Dave Grusin, arranger.

Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocal(s)
What's New

Linda Ronstadt

Nelson Riddle, arranger.

Best Vocal Arrangement For Two Or More Voices
Be Bop Medley

Chaka Khan

Arif Mardin & Chaka Khan, arrangers.

Best Album Package
Speaking In Tongues

Talking Heads

Robert Rauschenberg, art director.

Best Album Notes
The Interplay Sessions

Bill Evans

Orrin Keepnews, album notes writer.

Best Historical Album
The Greatest Recordings Of Arturo Toscanini - Symphonies, Vol. I

Arturo Toscanini

Allan Steckler & Stanley Walker, producers.

Best Engineered Recording - Non-Classical
Michael Jackson

Bruce Swedien, engineer.

Producer Of The Year (Non-Classical)
Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones
Michael Jackson & Quincy Jones
Best Classical Album
Georg Solti
Mahler: Symphony No. 9 In D

Georg Solti, conductor

Georg Solti, artist. James Mallinson, producer.

Best Orchestral Recording
Georg Solti
Mahler: Symphony No. 9 In D

Georg Solti, conductor

Georg Solti, conductor. James Mallinson, producer.

Best Opera Recording
Georg Solti
Mozart: Le Nozze Di Figaro

Georg Solti, conductor; Thomas Allen, Kiri Te Kanawa, Lucia Popp, Samuel Ramey, Kurt Moll, Frederica Von Stade

Frederica von Stade, Kiri Te Kanawa, Kurt Moll, Lucia Popp, Samuel Ramey & Thomas Allen, artists. Georg Solti, conductor. Christopher Raeburn, producer. (TIE)

Verdi: La Traviata

James Levine, conductor; Teresa Stratas, Placido Domingo, Cornell MacNeil

Cornell MacNeil, Placido Domingo & Teresa Stratas, artists. James Levine, conductor. Jay David Saks & Max Wilcox, producers. (TIE)

Best Choral Performance (Other Than Opera)
Georg Solti
Haydn: The Creation

Georg Solti, conductor; Margaret Hillis, choral director

Margaret Hillis, choir director. Georg Solti, conductor.

Best Chamber Music Performance
Brahms: Sonata For Cello And Piano In E Minor, Op. 38 And Sonata In F, Op. 99

Mstislav Rostropovich, cello; Rudolf Serkin, piano

Mstislav Rostropovich & Rudolf Serkin, artists.

Best Classical Performance - Instrumental Soloist Or Soloists (With Orchestra)
Haydn: Trumpet Concerto In E Flat/L. Mozart: Trumpet Concerto In D/Hummel: Trumpet Concerto In E Flat

Wynton Marsalis, trumpet

Wynton Marsalis, artist.

Best Classical Performance - Instrumental Soloist Or Soloists (Without Orchestra)
Beethoven: Piano Sonatas Nos. 12 & 13

Glenn Gould, piano

Glenn Gould, artist.

Best Classical Vocal Soloist Performance
Leontyne Price & Marilyn Horne In Concert At The Met

Marilyn Horne & Leontyne Price

Leontyne Price & Marilyn Horne, artists.

Best Engineered Recording, Classical
Mahler: Symphony No. 9 In D

Georg Solti, conductor

James Lock, engineer.

Classical Producer Of The Year
Marc Aubort & Joanna Nickrenz

Marc Aubort & Joanna Nickrenz

Joanna Nickrenz & Marc Aubort, producers.