Lars Ulrich Remembers Metallica's Loss To Jethro Tull At The 1989 Grammys
Posted by Joseph Lee on 01.29.2014
It was messed up...
Lars Ulrich recently spoke with Rolling Stone about Metallca's 1989 Grammys loss to Jethro Tull for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance, even though they were the favorite. Metallica was nominated for their fourth album And Justice For All. They also performed that same night. Metallica would win the next year for "One" (which they performed this year at the Grammys with pianist Lang Lang) and then had eight more after that for a total of nine.
Even Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson thought Metallica was going to win. He told Billboard last week: "Everybody thought Metallica would win. I was recording in the studio at the time – so we stayed at home."
Ulrich said: "Getting the chance to put a band like Metallica on a national TV show like the Grammys, and getting to occupy five-and-a-half minutes of airtime, was a huge, huge, huge, huge thing in 1989. It was a kind of validation of tens of thousands of disenfranchised and left-of-center music fans' existence, in a way. I'm not trying to pat ourselves on the back here, but it was sort of the first time the Grammys had said, "Yes, there is stuff that's edgier. There is stuff that's darker than the stuff that's being played on the radio and MTV." That was the real victory that day.
And here we were hearing, "Metallica's gonna win a Grammy." Everybody was kind of buying into this idea. And obviously, at one point, you start hearing it enough and you start buying into it yourself.
When Jethro Tull was announced, after we had performed, it sort of reiterated what everybody had thought all along. It was the thought that the Grammys were out of whack with what was current, that it was still sort of a few years behind the curve in terms of what was really going on in the music world, rather than what was going on within the Recording Academy.
This is how fucked up it was: The record company had already made 10,000 onesheets to put in record stores that said [Justice was a] "Grammy Award Winner." So we said, why don't we just put a sticker on them that says, "Grammy Award Loser"?
Listen, we were psyched that we were involved. We were psyched that we were invited. We were psyched that we got to perform. And then, a year or two later, they invited us back and we got our award. We've won a bunch of them since. I can't remember the count. So it worked out OK. I'm happy that we were the first guys to knock on the fucking door.
I don't think I've ever met [Jethro Tull frontman] Ian Anderson. I don't think I've ever even been in the same space as Ian Anderson. The other day, I was listening to one of their songs – not "Aqualung" – but one of them was on the radio the other day. I was telling my 15-year-old son, "Those are the guys that won the Grammy the first year." I was trying to explain to him who Jethro Tull was, about this flute-playing guy that had sort of Renaissance clothes. I think it was hard to follow what I was saying, since he was listening to Arctic Monkeys with the other ear, but I gave it my best shot [laughs]. But it all worked out OK. Those were crazy days."