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Album Of The Year GRAMMY Winners: '70s

Carole King, Paul Simon and Stevie Wonder are among the artists who took home music's biggest album prize

GRAMMYs/May 15, 2017 - 01:36 pm

An incalculable number of albums have been released in music history, but only 58 have earned the coveted distinction of Album Of The Year GRAMMY winner so far. From Henry Mancini's The Music From Peter Gunn to Taylor Swift's 1989, some of these elite albums have arguably surprised, some were seemingly consensus choices and still others have fostered lasting debate. In part two of Album Of The Year GRAMMY Winners, explore the albums that won — and were runners-up for — music's biggest prize for the 1970s.


Bridge Over Troubled Water
Simon And Garfunkel

Simon And Garfunkel's final studio album is by far their most adventurous. With a mix of anthemic songs of support such as "Bridge Over Troubled Water," frivolous love songs ("Cecilia") and plaintive folk ballads ("El Condor Pasa [If I Could]" and "The Boxer"), Bridge Over Troubled Water would become one of the duo's biggest sellers. In total, the album and tracks from it won six GRAMMYs, including Song and Record Of The Year. Despite its reassuring title track, the duo was in the midst of breaking up during the recording of the album.

Other Nominees: 
Close To You, Carpenters
Chicago, Chicago
Déjà Vu, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Elton John, Elton John
Sweet Baby JamesJames Taylor


Carole King

This year, a classic singer/songwriter bested rock, pop, funk/soul, and a blessed Broadway show. After becoming one of the most successful Brill Building songwriters along with her then-husband and creative partner, Gerry Goffin — with confections including "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," "One Fine Day" and "Up On The Roof," among many others — Carole King's first attempts at a solo career were quietly received. But Tapestry became a benchmark recording in the singer/songwriter realm, staying on the charts for nearly six years and selling 10 million copies. King's songs on Tapestry (including Record Of The Year "It's Too Late," Song Of The Year "You've Got A Friend," "I Feel The Earth Move," and the King/Goffin/Wexler cut "[You Make Me Feel Like] A Natural Woman") are exquisitely written and undeniably compelling.

Other Nominees: 
Carpenters, Carpenters
All Things Must Pass, George Harrison
Shaft, Isaac Hayes
Jesus Christ Superstar, London Production, Producers: Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tim Rice


The Concert For Bangla Desh
Various Artists

The triple-LP live album The Concert For Bangla Desh was one of the first culturally significant all-star charity recordings. Proceeds from the record and concert film — which continue to this day, thanks to a 2005 re-release on DVD and availability via iTunes and Spotify — went to UNICEF to benefit the Bengali homeless and poor, many suffering as a result of the 1971 war between India and Pakistan. The concert organizer, George Harrison, was made aware of the dire Bengali situation through his friendship with Indian sitar player Ravi Shankar. With participation from A-listers such as Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Billy Preston, Leon Russell, and Beatlemate Ringo Starr, the success of the concert would be a precursor to such efforts as Band Aid and USA For Africa.

Other Nominees: 
Moods, Neil Diamond
American Pie, Don McLean
Nilsson Schmilsson, Harry Nilsson
Jesus Christ Superstar, Original Broadway Cast, Producers: Tom Morgan, Tim Rice, Andrew Lloyd Webber


Stevie Wonder

Innervisions comprises nine songs, but even today they stand out as examples of Stevie Wonder's deft ability to tackle religion, social issues and politics within a pop palette. Showcasing his multitalented songwriting and arranging skills, "Higher Ground," "Living For The City" (a GRAMMY winner for Best Rhythm & Blues Song), "Don't You Worry 'Bout A Thing," and "He's Misstra Know It All" (aimed at then-President Richard Nixon) are astute observations of '70s social issues.

Other Nominees: 
Killing Me Softly With His Song, Roberta Flack
The Divine Miss M, Bette Midler
Behind Closed Doors, Charlie Rich
There Goes Rhymin' Simon, Paul Simon


Fulfillingness' First Finale
Stevie Wonder

Fulfillingness' First Finale, the second of Stevie Wonder's consecutive Album Of The Year wins, sits near the end of what is often considered his "classic period" of releases (Music Of My Mind, Talking Book, Innervisions, …Finale, and Songs In The Key Of Life). Moving in a different, more relationship-oriented direction than Innervisions, Wonder still takes another swing at President Nixon ("You Haven't Done Nothin'") with a little backing help from the Jackson 5. Still, African-Americans' outrage at a relatively unchanged post-'60s social scene was well represented at the GRAMMYs this year: Richard Pryor took home Best Comedy Recording for That N*****'s Crazy.

Other Nominees: 
Back Home Again, John Denver
Caribou, Elton John
Band On The Run, Paul McCartney And Wings
Court And Spark, Joni Mitchell


Still Crazy After All These Years
Paul Simon

Flush with some of his most accessible pop hits ("50 Ways To Leave Your Lover," "My Little Town" [featuring Art Garfunkel] and the title track), Still Crazy After All These Years was Paul Simon's third solo studio release after splitting with Garfunkel. By now, Simon and Stevie Wonder were in their '70s prime, duking it out almost yearly for best album in the eyes of the public and The Recording Academy Voting members. Memorably, Simon, in accepting his award, thanked Wonder for not releasing an album that year. Wonder would have the last laugh the next year.

Other Nominees: 
One Of These Nights, Eagles
Between The Lines, Janis Ian
Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy, Elton John
Heart Like A Wheel, Linda Ronstadt


Songs In The Key Of Life
Stevie Wonder

Songs In The Key Of Life, a double-LP collection considered by many to be the quintessential Stevie Wonder recording, tackles freedom ("Black Man"), politics ("Village Ghetto Land"), the future ("Saturn"), a father's love ("Isn't She Lovely"), and the powerful emotions behind them all. And 13 years after his Motown splash, The 12 Year Old Genius, this album finds Wonder at his most prolific in terms of experimentation and creativity. In all, Songs … would garner Wonder five GRAMMY wins, including Best Producer Of The Year honors.

Other Nominees: 
Breezin', George Benson
Chicago X, Chicago
Frampton Comes Alive!, Peter Frampton
Silk Degrees, Boz Scaggs


Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac's Rumours marked the group's only GRAMMY. Following their blues-rock beginnings, it is the band's second release after the addition of young California-based singer/songwriters Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks. Many of the album's songs are clearly steeped in the varying emotions resulting from incendiary internal relationships. The turmoil and strife proved to be bittersweet. (To this day, Rumours is among the most lauded and top-selling albums of all time.) "Don't Stop," "The Chain," "Dreams," and "Gold Dust Woman" were breakout songs, and Buckingham's unique guitar stylings shine throughout this landmark recording.

Other Nominees: 
Hotel California, Eagles
Aja, Steely Dan
JT, James Taylor
Star Wars — Motion Picture Soundtrack, John Williams, Producer: George Lucas


Saturday Night Fever — Motion Picture Soundtrack
Various Artists

During the mid-'70s, many of the sounds wafting out of car radios and club doors were clearly influenced by R&B and its dance floor cousin, disco. The big winners at the 21st Annual GRAMMYs included Best New Artist A Taste Of Honey, Donna Summer, Earth, Wind & Fire, and the soundtrack to the most popular film of 1977. Both the film and the accompanying soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever created a pop culture supernova. A third of the songs were composed and performed by the Bee Gees (including "Stayin' Alive," "How Deep Is Your Love," "More Than A Woman," and "Night Fever"). Other artists on the soundtrack read like a short list of disco royalty, including Yvonne Elliman (singing another silky Gibbs composition, "If I Can't Have You"), Kool & The Gang, Tavares, the Trammps, and KC & The Sunshine Band.

Other Nominees: 
Running On Empty, Jackson Browne
Even Now, Barry Manilow
Some Girls, the Rolling Stones
Grease — Motion Picture Soundtrack, Various Artists


52nd Street
Billy Joel

Coming off wins for Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year for "Just The Way You Are" from his 1977 breakout album The Stranger, Billy Joel had a lot riding on 52nd Street. But with its win for Album Of The Year, Joel captured three of the most prestigious GRAMMYs inside two years. The title and slight jazz undercurrents on the album (produced by Phil Ramone) are a nod to the New York City street renowned for its jazz clubs and glitzy nightlife. Catapulted by songs such as "Big Shot," "Honesty," "My Life," the ode to Phil Spector Brill Building pop "Until The Night," and "Zanzibar" (the latter featuring bright trumpet accompaniment by Freddie Hubbard and vibes by Steps Ahead's Mike Mainieri), 52nd Street was also Joel's first No. 1 album.
Other Nominees:
Minute By Minute, the Doobie Brothers
The Gambler, Kenny Rogers
Bad Girls, Donna Summer
Breakfast In America, Supertramp

Beatles Let it Be
The Beatles during the 'Let it Be' sessions in 1969

Photo: Ethan A. Russell / © Apple Corps Ltd


5 Lesser Known Facts About The Beatles' 'Let It Be' Era: Watch The Restored 1970 Film

More than five decades after its 1970 release, Michael Lindsay-Hogg's 'Let it Be' film is restored and re-released on Disney+. With a little help from the director himself, here are some less-trodden tidbits from this much-debated film and its album era.

GRAMMYs/May 8, 2024 - 05:34 pm

What is about the Beatles' Let it Be sessions that continues to bedevil diehards?

Even after their aperture was tremendously widened with Get Back — Peter Jackson's three-part, almost eight hour, 2021 doc — something's always been missing. Because it was meant as a corrective to a film that, well, most of us haven't seen in a long time — if at all.

That's Let it Be, the original 1970 documentary on those contested, pivotal, hot-and-cold sessions, directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg. Much of the calcified lore around the Beatles' last stand comes not from the film itself, but what we think is in the film.

Let it Be does contain a couple of emotionally charged moments between maturing Beatles. The most famous one: George Harrison getting snippy with Paul McCartney over a guitar part, which might just be the most blown-out-of-proportion squabble in rock history.

But superfans smelled blood in the water: the film had to be a locus for the Beatles' untimely demise. To which the film's director, Michael Lindsay-Hogg, might say: did we see the same movie?

"Looking back from history's vantage point, it seems like everybody drank the bad batch of Kool-Aid," he tells Lindsay-Hogg had just appeared at an NYC screening, and seemed as surprised by it as the fans: "Because the opinion that was first formed about the movie, you could not form on the actual movie we saw the other night."

He's correct. If you saw Get Back, Lindsay-Hogg is the babyfaced, cigar-puffing auteur seen throughout; today, at 84, his original vision has been reclaimed. On May 8, Disney+ unveiled a restored and refreshed version of the Let it Be film — a historical counterweight to Get Back. Temperamentally, though, it's right on the same wavelength, which is bound to surprise some Fabs disciples.

With the benefit of Peter Jackson's sound-polishing magic and Giles Martin's inspired remixes of performances, Let it Be offers a quieter, more muted, more atmospheric take on these sessions. (Think fewer goofy antics, and more tight, lingering shots of four of rock's most evocative faces.)

As you absorb the long-on-ice Let it Be, here are some lesser-known facts about this film, and the era of the Beatles it captures — with a little help from Lindsay-Hogg himself.

The Beatles Were Happy With The Let It Be Film

After Lindsay-Hogg showed the Beatles the final rough cut, he says they all went out to a jovial meal and drinks: "Nice food, collegial, pleasant, witty conversation, nice wine."

Afterward, they went downstairs to a discotheque for nightcaps. "Paul said he thought Let it Be was good. We'd all done a good job," Lindsay-Hogg remembers. "And Ringo and [wife] Maureen were jiving to the music until two in the morning."

"They had a really, really good time," he adds. "And you can see like [in the film], on their faces, their interactions — it was like it always was."

About "That" Fight: Neither Paul Nor George Made A Big Deal

At this point, Beatles fanatics can recite this Harrison-in-a-snit quote to McCartney: "I'll play, you know, whatever you want me to play, or I won't play at all if you don't want me to play. Whatever it is that will please you… I'll do it." (Yes, that's widely viewed among fans as a tremendous deal.)

If this was such a fissure, why did McCartney and Harrison allow it in the film? After all, they had say in the final cut, like the other Beatles.

"Nothing was going to be in the picture that they didn't want," Lindsay-Hogg asserts. "They never commented on that. They took that exchange as like many other exchanges they'd had over the years… but, of course, since they'd broken up a month before [the film's release], everyone was looking for little bits of sharp metal on the sand to think why they'd broken up."

About Ringo's "Not A Lot Of Joy" Comment…

Recently, Ringo Starr opined that there was "not a lot of joy" in the Let it Be film; Lindsay-Hogg says Starr framed it to him as "no joy."

Of course, that's Starr's prerogative. But it's not quite borne out by what we see — especially that merry scene where he and Harrison work out an early draft of Abbey Road's "Octopus's Garden."

"And Ringo's a combination of so pleased to be working on the song, pleased to be working with his friend, glad for the input," Lindsay-Hogg says. "He's a wonderful guy. I mean, he can think what he wants and I will always have greater affection for him.

"Let's see if he changes his mind by the time he's 100," he added mirthfully.

Lindsay-Hogg Thought It'd Never Be Released Again

"I went through many years of thinking, It's not going to come out," Lindsay-Hogg says. In this regard, he characterizes 25 or 30 years of his life as "solitary confinement," although he was "pushing for it, and educating for it."

"Then, suddenly, the sun comes out" — which may be thanks to Peter Jackson, and renewed interest via Get Back. "And someone opens the cell door, and Let it Be walks out."

Nobody Asked Him What The Sessions Were Like

All four Beatles, and many of their associates, have spoken their piece on Let it Be sessions — and journalists, authors, documentarians, and fans all have their own slant on them.

But what was this time like from Lindsay-Hogg's perspective? Incredibly, nobody ever thought to check. "You asked the one question which no one has asked," he says. "No one."

So, give us the vibe check. Were the Let it Be sessions ever remotely as tense as they've been described, since man landed on the moon? And to that, Lindsay-Hogg's response is a chuckle, and a resounding, "No, no, no."

The Beatles' Final Song: Giles Martin On The Second Life Of "Now And Then" & How The Fab Four Are "Still Breaking New Ground"

Jon Batiste
Jon Batiste

Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images


GRAMMY Rewind: Watch Jon Batiste’s Encouraging Speech For His 2022 Album Of The Year Win For 'We Are'

Jon Batiste accepts the Album Of The Year award for We Are, a win that he dedicated to "real artists, real musicians."

GRAMMYs/Apr 26, 2024 - 04:50 pm

Jon Batiste walked into the 2022 GRAMMYs with a whopping 11 nominations, making him the most recognized artist of the evening. By the end of the night, he received five GRAMMYs for Best American Roots Performance, Best American Roots Song, Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media, Best Music Video, and the highly coveted Album Of The Year.

In this episode of GRAMMY Rewind, watch Batiste take the stage to accept the award for Album Of The Year for his sixth studio album, We Are

Batiste began his praises by acknowledging God: "I just put my head down and work on the craft every day. I love music, he said. "I've been playing since I was a little boy. It's more than entertainment for me — it's a spiritual practice." He also thanked the "many people that went into making this album," including his grandfather, nephew, father, and executive producer, Ryan Lynn.

"This [award] is for real artists, real musicians. Let's just keep going. Be you! That's it. I love you even if I don't know you," Batiste cheered.

Press play on the video above to hear Jon Batiste's complete acceptance speech and check back to for more new episodes of GRAMMY Rewind.

Watch: Jon Batiste Delivers A Heartfelt Performance Of “Ain’t No Sunshine” & “Lean On Me” | 2024 GRAMMYs Performance

Taylor Swift hold her GRAMMY Awards from the 2016 GRAMMYs
Taylor Swift at the 2016 GRAMMYs.

Photo: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic/Getty Images


GRAMMY Rewind: Watch Taylor Swift Become The First Woman To Win Album Of The Year Twice

Celebrate the release of ‘The Tortured Poets Department’ by revisiting the night Taylor Swift made history as the first woman to win Album Of The Year twice at the 2016 GRAMMYs.

GRAMMYs/Apr 18, 2024 - 10:32 pm

At the 2024 GRAMMYs, Taylor Swift became the artist with the most Album Of The Year awards in GRAMMY history with four total wins. But her first record-breaking AOTY moment traces back eight years ago, when she became the first woman to win the category twice.

In this episode of GRAMMY Rewind, relive the moment she won the historic golden gramophone for her iconic fifth studio album, 1989, at the 2016 GRAMMYs.

“I want to thank the fans for the last 10 years,” Swift beamed, praising her loyal fanbase, the Swifties. She later acknowledged the Recording Academy for “this unbelievable honor” and the project’s main producer, Max Martin, who “deserved to be up there for 25 years.”

Before she left the stage, she offered an inspiring message to aspiring female musicians in light of her groundbreaking win. “To all the young women, there are going to be people along the way who try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame,” she explained. “But if you just focus on the work and don’t let those people sidetrack you, someday, when you get where you’re going, you’ll look around and know that it was you and the people who love you who put you there. That will be the greatest feeling in the world.”

Check out Taylor Swift’s complete acceptance speech for her second Album Of The Year win, before diving into the release of The Tortured Poets Department, and check back to for more new episodes of GRAMMY Rewind.

Get Ready For Taylor Swift's ‘The Tortured Poets Department’ Album Release: Everything You Need To Know

Billy Joel
Billy Joel performing at Madison Square Garden in 2023

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images


How To Rewatch "The 100th: Billy Joel At Madison Square Garden – The Greatest Arena Run Of All Time"

"The 100th: Billy Joel At Madison Square Garden – The Greatest Arena Run Of All Time" aired Sunday, April 14 (9-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on CBS, and be available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+.

GRAMMYs/Apr 14, 2024 - 02:16 pm

Legendary singer/songwriter Billy Joel, a five-time GRAMMY winner with 23 nominations, has always remained in the Recording Academy's spotlight, even during his lengthy hiatus from pop/rock music.

At the 2024 GRAMMYs, Joel marked his grand comeback with his new single, "Turn the Lights Back On" — and it was like he never turned them off at all.

Now, the era of Billy Joel rolls on. Tonight, April 14, viewers can witness his record-breaking 100th consecutive performance at Madison Square Garden, a streak that started when his franchise run began on March 28. Joel holds the amazing distinction of selling out Madison Square Garden more than any other artist.

This is Joel's first-ever concert to air on a broadcast network — so don't miss the Piano Man at work, whether you watch on the night of, or stream it after the broadcast.

Here's how and when to watch "The 100th: Billy Joel At Madison Square Garden – The Greatest Arena Run Of All Time."

When Did The Special Initially Air?

The special aired Sunday, April 14 from 9-11:00 PM, ET/PT on the CBS Television Network, and is available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+. (A “network programming timing error” had cut off the last song.)

When Will The Special Air Again?

Now, you’ll have a chance to watch it again, on Friday, April 19 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the CBS Television Network. It will be rebroadcast in its entirety.

Where Else Will The Special Air?

Sling TV offers CBS in select regions. Paramount+ with Showtime is free for the first month and $11.99 per month after the trial period ends. Plus, you can access that platform via Prime Video.

Keep checking for more info on all things Billy Joel!

Freddy Wexler On Helping Billy Joel "Turn The Lights Back On" — At The 2024 GRAMMYs And Beyond