Eric Clapton was nominated Thursday for nine Grammys, including four for "Tears of Heaven," a tribute to his 4-year-old son Conor, who was killed in 1991 in a fall from an apartment window in Manhattan.
Clapton's recording of the song will compete for best single record with country newcomer Billy Ray Cyrus' "Achy Breaky Heart," Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson's "Beauty and the Beast," chanteuse k.d. lang's "Constant Craving" and pop-R&B; singer Vanessa Williams' "Save the Best for Last."
In the album category, Clapton's acoustic "Unplugged" will vie with lang's sultry "Ingenue"; former Eurythmics singer Annie Lennox's debut solo recording, "Diva"; Irish rock band U2's "Achtung Baby," and the soundtrack from "Beauty and the Beast."
The nominees for the music awards were announced at the Universal City Hilton on Thursday morning. The winners, to be selected by the more than 7,000 voting members of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, will be named in a nationally televised ceremony Feb. 24 at the Shrine Auditorium.
The nominees for best new artist are Cyrus, rap groups Arrested Development and Kris Kross, quirky pop singer Sophie B. Hawkins and Latin-flavored pop singer Jon Secada.
Between the hit title song and the instrumental score, Alan Menken and Howard Ashman's music from "Beauty and the Beast" accounted for a total of eight nominations. Others scoring high Thursday included Irish folk group the Chieftains, with five nominations, and lang and Peter Gabriel, with four each.
The big surprise in the balloting for the recording industry's 35th annual awards was the cold shoulder given in the top categories to Garth Brooks.
Brooks was the year's biggest-selling recording artist--pop and country--and a far more acclaimed figure than Cyrus, but his only nominations were for male country vocal, for his album "The Chase," and country collaboration, for a duet with Chris LeDoux.
Clapton's nominations also included best overall song ("Tears in Heaven," written with Will Jennings), best rock song ("Layla," his 1970 composition with Jim Gordon), male pop vocal and male rock vocal. "Tears in Heaven" is also nominated as best song written for motion pictures or television. The song appeared in the film "Rush."
The other writers up for best overall song are Don Von Tress for "Achy Breaky Heart," Menken and Ashman for "Beauty and the Beast," lang and Ben Mink for "Constant Craving," and Wendy Waldman, Jon Lind and Phil Galdston for "Save the Best for Last."
Boyz II Men's ballad "End of the Road," which spent more than three months at No. 1 on the pop charts, didn't get a best record nomination but did figure in two R&B; nominations--group performance and song.
Public Enemy, a rap group noted for its radical politics and artistic excellence, got two nominations, for rap performance (the "Greatest Misses" album) and longform music video ("The Enemy Strikes Live").
Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, an eight-time Grammy winner who's often a dominant nominee in both jazz and classical categories, got just one, for jazz instrumental solo for the album track "Blue Interlude." An unexpected nominee in the R&B; instrumental category, for "Doo-Bop," is the late jazz legend Miles Davis.
For the most part, the usual suspects and no surprises characterized the classical portion of the Grammy nominations. However, one newcomer, the justly celebrated Italian mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli, who later this season makes her U.S. operatic debut (she has already given recitals in most major American cities), is represented by her "Rossini Heroines" album in two categories. Interestingly, she will compete with two long-established vocal virtuosos, the Americans Marilyn Horne and Arleen Auger, as well as American baritone Thomas Hampson.
Equally fascinating is the contemporary composition category, for a work given its first performance "within the last 25 years," and released on recording for the first time during this eligibility year. Contrast these dissimilar music writers: the late Samuel Barber and four living contenders--the controversial American opera composer Anthony Davis, the redoubtable Pole Witold Lutoslawski, the British John Tavener and the American Ellen Taaffe Zwilich.
The nominations were based on the eligibility period Oct. 1, 1991, to last Sept. 30.
Times staff writer Daniel Cariaga contributed to this story.
The Major Categories
* Eric Clapton, "Unplugged"
* k.d. lang, "Ingenue"
* Annie Lennox, "Diva"
* U2, "Achtung Baby"
* Various artists, "Beauty and the Beast"
* Eric Clapton, "Tears in Heaven"
* Billy Ray Cyrus, "Achy Breaky Heart"
* Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson, "Beauty and the Beast"
* k.d. lang, "Constant Craving"
* Vanessa Williams, "Save the Best for Last"
* Eric Clapton, Will Jennings, "Tears in Heaven"
* Don Von Tress, "Achy Breaky Heart"
* Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, "Beauty and the Beast"
* k.d. lang and Ben Mink, "Constant Craving"
* Wendy Waldman, Jon Lind and
* Phil Galdston, "Save the Best for Last"
* Arrested Development
* Billy Ray Cyrus
* Sophie B. Hawkins
* Kris Kross
* Jon Secada