Andy Williams, 15th GRAMMY Awards host
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Johnny Cash To Roberta Flack: 7 Things To Know About The 15th GRAMMY Awards
The GRAMMY Awards gained more and more steam going into the 1970s, and by the time the 15th anniversary came around in 1973, the train was at full speed and headed for Music City U.S.A. — Nashville, Tenn.
From the show's arrival in Nashville to memorable speeches by Johnny Cash and Helen Reddy, landmark GRAMMY wins by Roberta Flack and George Harrison, and a few firsts, the 15th Annual GRAMMY Awards was both a testament to the place the awards had earned in the heart and soul of the recording industry and a taste of how widespread and influential Music's Biggest Night would grow to become.
Let's take a look back at how this historic night in 1973 played out, focusing on how the show had grown, who made the headlines, who broke the mold, and who took home the trophies.
1. Nashville's Only GRAMMY Broadcast
For the 15th GRAMMY Awards, the show traveled to the heart and soul of country music, Nashville, Tenn. Though prior awards ceremonies had been hosted across various cities, including Nashville from 1965–1970, since the first live GRAMMY telecast in 1971, the show had taken to parking itself in one city at a time. The 15th GRAMMYs was Nashville's turn. For the occasion, Tennessee Theatre served as the venue while Andy Williams played the role of host. It's the only time in the history of the live telecast that Nashville has hosted Music's Biggest Night — in fact, it's the only time the telecast has been broadcast from a city other than New York or Los Angeles.
2. Harrison And Shankar Change The World
George Harrison accomplished something special when he opened his heart and his rolodex to create The Concert For Bangladesh. The former Beatle teamed with GRAMMY-winning sitarist Ravi Shankar and they took over New York's Madison Square Garden for two back-to-back shows, enlisting a remarkable roster of friends such as Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Leon Russell, Ringo Starr, and more to raise awareness and funds for efforts to help refugees from the war-torn country. The concert was a massive success in paving the way for future humanitarian projects such as Live Aid, and the resulting triple-LP won the coveted GRAMMY Award for Album Of The Year, showing that musicians have the power to truly make a difference.
3. Helen Reddy Brings Female Empowerment
The GRAMMY Awards have always been on the forward edge of equality politics, such as marrying LGBTQ couples on the GRAMMY stage in 2014 to the soundtrack of Macklemore, Ryan Lewis and Mary Lambert singing "Same Love." But this through-line arguably goes back to the 15th GRAMMYs, thanks to Helen Reddy.
The Australian singer/songwriter won the GRAMMY for Best Pop Performance, Female for her anthem, "I Am Woman," which brought feminism front and center on the GRAMMY stage.
A moment that surely still resonates today, Reddy brought empowerment for women further into the foreground when she declared during her acceptance speech, "And I would like to thank God because she makes everything possible."
4. The First Time Ever I … Won A GRAMMY.
Soulful songstress Roberta Flack won the first two of her four GRAMMYs at the 15th GRAMMY Awards, most notably Record Of The Year for her smash "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face." The song also pulled in a GRAMMY for its songwriter, Ewan MacColl, for Song Of The Year.
Flack also won GRAMMY gold that night for Best Pop Vocal Performance By A Duo, Group Or Chorus for "Where Is The Love," her duet with Donny Hathaway. The following year, she would go on to win two more GRAMMY Awards for her classic "Killing Me Softly With His Song."
5. Nilsson And Starr Steal The Show
In addition to landing big time nominations for Album Of The Year for Nilsson Schmilsson and Record Of The Year for "Without You," singer/songwriter Harry Nilsson won the second GRAMMY of his career, this time for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male for his faithful rendition of "Without You," a song popularized by British rockers Badfinger.
Nilsson's charisma matched his talent step for step, just as he matched his good friend Ringo Starr while presenting an award at the 15th GRAMMY Awards where both men read their lines in near perfect unison.
6. George Carlin Wins First GRAMMY
Comedian George Carlin never pulled any punches, and his delightfully irreverent style turned out well for him — he won a total of five career GRAMMYs. But it all started for the "Seven Dirty Words" comic at the 15th GRAMMY Awards when he took home his first GRAMMY — Best Comedy Recording for FM And AM, his third album.
Carlin went on to earn three Best Spoken Comedy Album GRAMMYs and one Best Comedy Album GRAMMY for his final 2008 album, It's Bad For Ya.
7. Johnny Cash Weighs In
One of the night's most memorable moments came in the form of praise for the Recording Academy from the Man In Black himself, Johnny Cash. During an award presentation, Cash described the organization as "fast-moving, creative and exciting like the recording industry itself. I'm Johnny Cash and I'm proud to be a part of it."
Nearly 45 years later, the Recording Academy continues its tireless work to support and celebrate the great artists of our time. Thanks, Mr. Cash.