Grammys Head of Awards Reflects on Jethro Tull Beating Metallica: We Don’t Want to Be Embarrassed Again
As the 2019 Grammy Awards celebrate their 61st year as “music’s biggest night,” metal fans will certainly reflect on the 30-year anniversary of Jethro Tull defeating Metallica — perhaps the most controversial and criticized decision in Grammys history. Loudwire got on the phone with The Recording Academy’s Head of Awards, Bill Freimuth, who revealed how the embarrassment of that decision shaped the voting process for "Music's Biggest Night" moving forward.
The look on Alice Cooper and Lita Ford’s faces said it all. As Cooper read Crest of a Knave by Jethro Tull as winner of the 1989 Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance, he became visibly confused and stricken, as did the viewing public. The Grammys’ decision not to award Metallica’s …And Justice for All is still one of metal’s most enduring tales, often referenced as the ultimate example of the industry overlooking music’s heaviest genre.
“I wasn’t here at that time and I don’t weigh in on the choices made by our voters,” Freimuth stated lightheartedly. “What happened as a result of that particular situation is that we’ve made a change to our process where we added this whole layer called screening committees. We now have 24 different committees of people ranging in size anywhere from 15 to 70 people who sit around and listen to all the music and make sure that it gets to the right category so something like that doesn’t embarrass us again.”
When we asked Freimuth who he would have voted for in 1989 if given the chance, he responded, “That’s a really tough one. I’m certainly a fan of at least a few of those acts, but I can’t really go on record saying which one I would prefer.”
The nominees for the 61st Annual Grammy Awards were announced earlier today, with Greta Van Fleet nabbing four nominations. Ghost also nabbed multiple nominations in the Rock category, while bands like Trivium and High on Fire are up for the Best Metal Performance award.
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