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John Williams To Eddie Murphy: 7 Things To Know About The 25th GRAMMY Awards
The GRAMMY Awards' 25th anniversary saw the Recording Academy celebrating the creators and craftspeople whose musical output came to define our culture throughout the show's eligibility year, from October 1981 through September 1982.
Held on Feb. 23, 1983, at the historic Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, the GRAMMYs' silver anniversary was hosted by John Denver, and saw big wins by Toto, Marvin Gaye and John Williams; captivating performances by Miles Davis and Joe Cocker with Jennifer Warnes; and even some unexpected hijinks from the inimitable Eddie Murphy.
Let's take a look back this special night and some of the unforgettable GRAMMY moments that went down in history at the 25th GRAMMY Awards.
1. John Williams Hits A Home Run
GRAMMY-winning composer, conductor and arranger John Williams took home three GRAMMYs at the 25th GRAMMY Awards — tying his winningest year ever, and marking his sixth consecutive year with at least one GRAMMY win. His instrumental compositions and musical arrangements for Steven Spielberg's 1982 sci-fi hit film E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial took home GRAMMY gold for Best Instrumental Composition ("Flying — Theme From E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial"), Best Arrangement On An Instrumental Recording ("Flying") and Best Album Of Original Score Written For A Motion Picture Or Television Special (E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial).
2. "Always On My Mind" Takes Song Of The Year
Originally written by songwriters Johnny Christopher, Mark James and Wayne Carson, and first recorded by Gwen McCrae and Brenda Lee in 1972 before becoming one of Elvis Presley's best-known songs, "Always On My Mind" got its just due when it won the songwriters Song Of The Year at the 25th GRAMMYs. The GRAMMY-winning version of "Always On My Mind" was recorded by outlaw country great Willie Nelson and earned him Best Country Performance, Male. Nelson's version of the song was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame in 2008.
3. Another Feather In The Cap For Georg Solti
The Hungarian-born operatic and orchestral legend Georg Solti brought home the GRAMMY for Best Choral Performance (Other Than Opera) for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus' recording of Berlioz: La Damnation De Faust, marking his 11th consecutive year with a GRAMMY win. A prolific conductor, Solti became the first-ever recipient of the Recording Academy's Trustees Award in 1967, alongside producer James Curshaw. Solti also received the Recording Academy's Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995, just two years before his death. To date, Solti is the top GRAMMY winner of all time, with 31 career wins.
4. The MTV Generation Makes Its Presence Known
In just its second year of broadcast in its original 24-hour music videos all-the-time format, MTV was hard at work shaking up the music industry and breaking new artists into the mainstream with a then-unheard-of level of cultural influence. Four of the five Best New Artist nominees at the 25th GRAMMY Awards — Men At Work, Stray Cats, Human League, and Asia — made their bones through popular videos played heavily on the nascent network. Men At Work ultimately took home the Best New Artist GRAMMY, thanks largely to the success of their smash hit 1982 U.S. debut album, Business As Usual.
5. Joe Cocker And Jennifer Warnes Take The GRAMMY Stage
"Up Where We Belong," performed by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes, had a cultural moment in 1982. The moving ballad's popularity was thanks in large part to its placement as the backing track to the emotional final scene of director Taylor Hackford's romantic military drama, An Officer And A Gentleman, starring Richard Gere and Debra Winger. Hackford credits Cocker's fantastic 24th GRAMMY Awards performance of "I'm So Glad I'm Standing Here Today" alongside the Crusaders as playing an instrumental part in his decision to give Cocker a shot at singing "Up Where We Belong" for his film the next year. Cocker and Warnes performed a live duet of the tune on the telecast and later that night took home their first GRAMMYs for Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal.
6. Toto Take A Shot At Critics
The 25th GRAMMY Awards marked a big year for the American fusion rock outfit Toto, who were then largely under-appreciated by contemporary rock critics. Previously nominated for Best New Artist at the 21st GRAMMY Awards, the band took home three GRAMMYs this year, nabbing Record Of The Year for "Rosanna," Album Of The Year for Toto IV and Producer Of The Year. With additional wins for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocal(s) and Best Vocal Arrangement For Two Or More Voices for "Rosanna," and Best Engineered Recording, Non-Classical, Toto IV brought home a total of six GRAMMYs. During the band's acceptance speech for Producer Of The Year, keyboardist/vocalist/co-songwriter David Paich took a moment to thank rock critic Robert Hilburn "for believing in us," a sarcastic stab at the journalist who once wrote "there's a disheartening lack of depth or daring in [Toto's] music."
7. Eddie Murphy's Hijinks And Poignant Statements
Eddie Murphy took every stage opportunity to ease the tension and garner a chuckle. As part of a brief stand-up performance during the telecast, the then-rising star of "Saturday Night Live" took a lighthearted stab at the night's jilted hopefuls, pointing out, "A lot of people gonna lose tonight — and you got your tuxedos on and you're losing and it's funny." Never one to leave himself out of a roasting, Murphy went on to declare, "I ain't leaving here without a GRAMMY," despite having already been passed over for both of his nominated categories. Murphy also crashed the stage during Lionel Richie's acceptance speech for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male, taking temporary possession of the GRAMMY winner's statuette amid a standing ovation from the gathered audience.
Effortlessly switching tones later in the evening, Murphy made a poignant statement about the influence of the Recording Academy, stating, "You're real important to people's lives because you give people's lives atmosphere. … I thank you for being what you are and keep kicking butt in the '80s."