METALLICA was nominated for the very first “Hard Rock/Metal Performance” Grammy in 1989, but famously lost to JETHRO TULL, a band distinguished mainly by its heavy use of flute. Fans (and even some audience members) were rightly outraged, though TULL‘s record label tried to make light of the faux pas by placing a Billboard ad that read, “The flute is a heavy, metal instrument.”
With the 2012 Grammys coming up this Sunday, Powerline asked JETHRO TULL‘s vocalist Ian Anderson to recount that historic day when JETHRO TULL was given the award for best hard rock/metal performer.
“I probably get (the question) a lot more when I’m talking to American writers than I do [at home in England],” says Ian Anderson. “It’s not really a big deal over here. It was in a year where it was a new category for ‘hard rock’ forward slash ‘metal’ and that category still exists today … and we were, for some strange reason, nominated. And at the time no one paid any attention to the fact that we were nominated. There was not a peep out of anyone. Because they thought there’s no way JETHRO TULL are gonna win it. Nor IGGY POP, nor JANE’S ADDICTION. It’s going to be METALLICA because they were the huge, new, straight-out-of-the-box, enormous, hit talent that year and everybody took it for granted that METALLICA were gonna win the Grammy, including METALLICA themselves. And when it was ordered to JETHRO TULL, to a barrage of boos and hisses and gasps of disbelief, I’d like to think that it wasn’t that the six thousand voting members of the National Academy Of Recording Arts And Sciences were voting for JETHRO TULL as a heavy rock band or a heavy metal band. They gave us the award because we were a bunch of nice guys who never won a Grammy before. And sad to relate, even after all these years, there is still no category for best one-legged flute player. Otherwise, I’d be winning it every year.”
He continues, “And as we said at the time, METALLICA were an exciting new band. and they will be sure to win the Grammy next year and indeed they did. And to prove the point that heavy metal bands do have a sense of humor, they took out a full page ad in Billboard when they won the Grammy, thanking their record producer, their record company, their mums, their dads, their brothers, the family dog and JETHRO TULL for not bringing out a new album that year.”
Read more from Powerline.