On February 22, 1989, a major scandal erupted during the 31st Grammy Awards.
(Photo: Paul Natkin/Getty Images)
This was "Metallica's" year. A few months earlier they had released the album "...And Justice For All". It was the first album after the tragedy in which bassist Cliff Burton lost his life, and the band won a hug from the audience and critics. The music video of the song "One" was non-stop on MTV, which increased sales of the album which became the band's second best-selling album ever, after "The Black Album".
Coincidentally, that same year the Grammy Institute launched a new category that was crowned with the long name: "Best Hard Rock / Metal Performance (Vocal or Instrumental)". This category was tailor-made just for Metallica, just like a suit made for a groom on his wedding day. It was clear to everyone that Metallica was going to take the Grammy in the above category, and by far...
The red carpet unfolded and "Metallica" even got to perform at the ceremony with the song "One", as a "warm-up" to the real thing, the moment when they go on stage and pick up the small statue.
Those who were nominated in the category were "AC/DC" with "Blow Up Your Video", singer Iggy Pop with the album "Cold Metal", "Jane's Addiction" with the album "Nothing's Shocking" and Jethro Tull with their album "Crest of a Knave".
No one imagined that the "Jethro Tull" had any chance of winning this category. Everyone knew it was "Metallica's" night. The members of the "Jethro Tull" did not even bother to arrive at the ceremony, after their record company made it clear to them that in light of the fact that they have no chance of winning, it does not intend to fund their travel expenses. Ian Anderson noted that even before the ceremony, he had heard that members of "Metallica" had printed several hundred T-shirts with "Metallica - Grammy Winners" written on them.
And then... one of the big scandals that happened at the music ceremonies happened. Alice Cooper and Lita Ford who introduced the nominees in the category open the envelope, and after a moment of astonishment try to stop their laughter. Alice Cooper later noted that he was sure it was a mistake and was given the wrong envelope from rehearsals done hours earlier. And the winners of the evening was "Jethro Tull". Do you get it? The band is folk, rock, progressive and if we stretch the line then at most a delicate heavy rock, the band whose golden era was almost two decades earlier, the band that released a mediocre album that year, bypasses the and takes the metal giant whose name even screams "Metal" !!!
Ian Anderson and his band members were not present at the ceremony to receive the award. Anderson later noted that it seemed to him that the members of the academy made up of people from the industry - producers, musicians, representatives of record companies - simply thought that Jethro Tull deserved the award because they were "five nice men who had never won a Grammy before".
This scandal has led to a change and split in this category that it was its first and last year. Since 1990, voting has taken place in two categories: one "Best Hard Rock Performance", and the other "Best Metal Performance", in order to prevent embarrassing cases such as these.
Justice was done with "Metallica" the following year when at the 32nd Grammy Awards held in 1990 it won the "Best Metal Performance" category. What’s more, "Metallica" has become the band that has won the most times in the above category with a total of 6 different wins.
It is interesting to note that in 2012 and in order to reduce the amount of awards, the academy again chose to unify the category, thus launching the "Best Hard Rock / Metal Performance" category, in which the band "Foo Fighters" first won.
In 1992 "Metallica" settled the score with the academy. When the band members took the stage to receive the award for the black album, Lars Ulrich noted that he thanked Jetro Tull for not releasing an album that year, adding that he was happy that Metallica was the first to knock on the "fucking door", he said, referring to the split held in category to avoid embarrassing mistakes such as these.