Jethro Tull Frontman Remembers Beating Metallica at Grammys: 'People Got Their Knickers in a Serious Twist'

Ian Anderson looks back at controversial awards ceremony.

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Jethro Tull frontman Ian Anderson has been speaking with Billboard about his memories of the 1988 Grammy Awards.

While Tull won for best hard rock/metal performance that year, many thought that the award should have gone to Metallica for the track "One:"

"Everybody thought Metallica would win. I was recording in the studio at the time - so we stayed at home. Late at night, the phone rang and it was a breathless Chrysalis Records employee saying, 'You won the GRAMMY!' I said, 'Thanks a lot, but I've got to get back to this mix.' We were thousands of miles away - nothing we could do about it.

"The following day I became aware it had created something of a fury. Poor Alice Cooper, who collected the Grammy on our behalf. He walked onstage to a chorus of boos because Metallica didn't win and a lot of their fans were there. They were upset, as were members of the media. The fact that we weren't really a hard rock band seemed glossed over when we were nominated. But when we won, people got their knickers in a serious twist. I would've been in my element walking onto the stage to boos and catcalls. I'm not sure what I would've said, but it would've been piffy, to say the least."

Anderson notes that he still regards the Grammys as being important:

"My view on peer awards is simple. It's churlish to dismiss them as being unimportant. Any of them - especially the Grammys - is a system based on voting by professionals in the music industry - producers. musicians, record-company people. We got a GRAMMY not for being the best hard rock metal band. We got a Grammy for being a nice bunch of guys who had never won a GRAMMY. It was gratefully received and something I feel quite good about."

20 comments sorted by best / new / date

    jamie_hough
    I love Jethro Tull & Metallica sort of equally so didn't bother me to be honest. I do feel sorry for Tull though - that Grammy win (where they undoubtedly were in the wrong category) sort of switched a lot of potential fans off them. It suddenly became cool to hate on them which is a shame for something they had absolutely no control over. If you've never listened to them they are well worth picking up a couple albums to take for a spin - go with Aqualung, Heavy Horses or Thick as a Brick, its all fun stuff.
    Kueller917
    I actually have seen a few Metallica fans that just disregard them from that victory. Shame cause it wasn't really their fault.
    Baia
    their album was great but they were in the wrong category and should never have won it
    travislausch
    It makes me sad that Tull won this Grammy on one of their worst albums, when they deserved one for so many of their better albums.
    jamesrulesmetal
    I'm certain that the albums in question were also carefully considered for "best hard rock/metal performance" in the years that they were released. : D \m/
    jamesrulesmetal
    In response, Metallica apparently affixed a sticker stating "Grammy Award Losers" on the cover of their ... And Justice For All album lmao! I bet James came up with that one, as he is a rather hilarious dude indeed. \m/
    splash3
    I can't really understand why are you getting downvoted. I heard that story and I thought it was hilarious On topic, I don't and could never see what's the big deal. This never stopped Metallica in their tracks and they got the award the next time around so no harm done. As for Jethro Tull, their a great band so there's nothing wrong in them getting a Grammy even if it's for a cathegory they don't really do. If anything it's the Grammys showing how legit they are and what kind of experts do they have.
    jamesrulesmetal
    OMG Someone actually spoke to me : O Why, thank you, and yes, it was indeed. : D This was also a classic: "As a reaction to the PMRC language warning labels, Metallica put a sticker in the shape of a stop sign on early pressings of this album [MOP] that read: "The only track you probably won't want to play is 'Damage, Inc.' due to the multiple uses of the infamous 'F' word. Otherwise, there aren't any 'shits', 'phucks', 'pisses', 'kunts', 'motherphuckers', or 'cocksuckers' anywhere on this record." (Quote modified slightly to evade the ebil swear filter). \m/
    dennis.1960
    Does anyone really care who wins the ridiculous grammy awards? They're about as rock as the RnR Hall of Fame...
    benjixoath
    everyones saying "oh the grammys are so out of touch" i bet if metallica won you wouldm't be saying the grammys are out of touch
    BlackLabel5150
    I remember watching that one, it showed just how out of touch the Grammy's are. While it was cool to see Tull get one, it didn't make a ton of sense at the time.
    Dime6String
    "We got a GRAMMY not for being the best hard rock metal band. We got a Grammy for being a nice bunch of guys who had never won a GRAMMY. It was gratefully received and something I feel quite good about." So, you got a Grammy because the industry felt sorry for you?!
    6-String_Madman
    One of the reasons why the Black Album came to be is because of Jethro Tull. FACT! That's their way of revenge and anyone could tell since Lars talked about it in his acceptance speech in '92.