Whitney Houston won an award for best pop vocal performance by a female for the song, “I Want to Dance with Somebody,” while the Irish rock group U2 was honored for best rock vocal performance by a duo or group for its “The Joshua Tree” album as the 30th annual Grammy Awards got under way at Radio City Music Hall here Wednesday night.
Earlier, in non-televised announcements of record industry awards, Aretha Franklin moved into sole possession of fifth place among pop artists on the all-time Grammy winners list when she was honored twice.
Franklin’s awards--for best female rhythm and blues vocal and best duo R & B vocal (with George Michael)--gave her 14 career Grammys, two more than Ella Fitzgerald. It was the 11th time Franklin has won in the female R & B category. The singer was nominated this year for female jazz vocal, but lost to Dianne Schuur. The only other dual winners among the 57 awards announced during the pre-telecast activities were soprano Kathleen Battle (vocal soloist and best opera recording) and violinist Itzhak Perlman (chamber music performance and instrumental classical soloist).
Bill Medley and Jennifer Warners (pop vocal by a duo), Randy Travis (male country vocal), K. T. Oslin (female country vocal), Ennio Morricone (instrumental score for a motion picture), Frank Zappa (rock instrumental performance), Al Green (male gospel vocal), Cece Winans (female gospel vocal), Bobby McFerrin (male jazz vocal) and Dexter Gordon (jazz instrumental solo) were also honored during the pre-telecast portion of the program.
The main drama during the CBS-televised portion of the night, when major awards were to be handed out, centered on whether the 6,000 voting members of the academy would side in the prestigious best album category with the studio mastery and superstar glamour of Michael Jackson, who was nominated for the album “Bad,” or go for the bolder and more socially conscious music of U2 and Minneapolis funk-rocker Prince, who were nominated for “The Joshua Tree” and “Sign ‘O’ the Times” LPs, respectively.
Houston’s album, “Whitney,” and “Trio,” a country-flavored work featuring Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris, were also nominated for best album, but they were considered long shots by most industry analysts.
Best Single Nominees
Of the album contenders, only U2 was also nominated for the evening’s other most prized award: best single record. The group’s recording of “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” was vying with Steve Winwood’s “Back in the High Life Again,” Paul Simon’s “Graceland,” Los Lobos’ “La Bamba” and Suzanne Vega’s “Luka.”
For the hundreds of fans gathered outside this city’s most famous theater Wednesday night, the excitement revolved as much around getting a chance to see the numerous recording stars enter the building as on who actually won.
This is the first time in seven years that the Grammys have been held here, rather than at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. And fans spent hours outside the theater, shrieking every time a limousine pulled up to the curb.
Unlike the Shrine, where the stars can enter a side entrance out of public view, the musicians and guests here entered through a public artist’s entrance to Radio City on 51st Street.
Early to Arrive
More than 200 fans were already in place by noon.
“New York is where the Grammys belong,” said Susan Heyward, 19, a college student who spent her lunch hour watching the activity. “This is the capital of the music business. . . . All people out in California do is sit in the sun and get a tan.”
The three-hour television show was also scheduled to have a strong New York flavor, highlighted by an ambitious production number featuring such New York-based artists as Tito Puente and Celia Cruz, Billy Joel and rappers Run-D.M.C.
Alfred W. Schlesinger, chairman of the academy’s board of trustees, said the awards ceremony will return to Los Angeles in 1989 with the site in future years to be determined on an annual basis.
Composer-conductor Henry Mancini leads the pop Grammy honorees with 20 awards in the competition sponsored by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences--and he was in the anxious position of being able to either extend his lead or see fellow composer-arranger Quincy Jones pass him on the list.
Mancini was nominated this year in three categories, while Jones, who has 19 career Grammys, was in the running in two areas.
Other winners in the pre-telecast awards included the trio of Parton, Ronstadt and Harris (country group vocal), Ronnie Milsap and Kenny Rogers (country duet) and Asleep at the Wheel (country instrumental).
In the R & B competition, David Sanborn won for best instrumental performance, while Bill Withers was honored for best song (“Lean on Me”).
In the jazz area, the Pat Metheny Group was cited for best jazz fusion performance, while the Duke Ellington Orchestra was the winner in the big band instrumental category.
“The Prince’s Trust All-Star Rock Concert,” featuring Elton John and Tina Turner, was named the best performance music video, while Genesis’ “Land of Confusion” was declared best concept music video.
“Somewhere Out There,” by James Horner, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, was judged the best song written for a film or television, while Garrison Keillor’s “Lake Wobegon Days” was named best spoken word recording.
Professor Longhair’s “Houseparty New Orleans Style” was voted best traditional blues recording, while Robert Cray’s “Strong Persuader” was declared best contemporary blues recording.