HOLLYWOOD: In the finest tradition of glittering Hollywood premieres and openings, the Eighth Annual Grammy Awards were presented in the International Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton Hotel with Roger Miller, Herbie Alpert and Frank Sinatra emerging as top winners.
We could make it a straight news story and simply list the winners but we thought that you might like to know exactly what went on that night as a sort of behind the scenes look at the Grammy Award presentations.
First off, the affair was strictly formal which meant that we had to pay a visit to our hairdresser, Robert, to get our long hair piled high so as to look at least slightly sophisticated. Our floor-length gowns had to be pulled out of the mothballs and readied for our big evening. And, believe us, it has a big evening!
You see, The BEAT was the only teen paper properly represented by reporters and photographers. Anyway, when we were appropriately dressed and made up we set out for the Beverly Hilton. The scene in the lobby set the pace for what was to occur inside the Ballroom. Elegantly attired ladies and tuxedo-clad men mingled about everywhere talking and laughing and generally having quite a time.
Four At Once
The big stars and Grammy nominees begin wandering in around seven o’clock and most of the guests moved inside the Ballroom where the mingling continued. Since similar dinners were being held in New York, Nashville and Chicago, not all of the nominees were in Hollywood. But plenty of them were!
Strolling into the Hilton were Herbie Alpert and his beautiful wife, Sharon, Lorne Greene, Jerry Lewis, Louis Armstrong, Jackie DeShannon, Phyllis Diller (in a floor-length France original which she said was actually “DeGaulle’s nightgown!”), Shelly Manne, Mort Sahl, Jerry Naylor, Molly Bee, Joanie Sommers, Connie Stevens (stunning in a yellow gown), John Gary, Anita Kerr, Lainie Kazan, the King Sisters, Tommy Leonetti, Sandy Nelson, Frankie Randall, Sonny & Cher (who, unfortunately, looked totally out of place in bell bottoms and furry jackets. We don’t say that maliciously but Cher’s bell bottoms looked about as chic as dirty jeans at a high school prom), and the list went on and on.
A prime rib dinner was next on the agenda. It was served by red-jacketed waiters with the know-how of years of experience behind them which made us happy because it meant that we probably wouldn’t have gravy spilled accidentally down our backs!
Although everyone spread smiles across their faces, the anxiety and nervous feeling which naturally accompanies a Grammy nomination was present in all of the nominees. You could tell they wished desperately that the presentations would get underway so that they could at least be ecstatic if they won or miserable if they didn’t.
At ten o’clock (an hour behind time) they got what they wished for — the awards program began as Jerry Lewis, master of ceremonies, leaped (literally) upon the stage and announced: “I’m proud to be Gary’s dad.” Jerry ran through a short monologue: he was his usual self but perhaps not as funny as he has been known to be.
The first presenters, Jackie DeShannon and Johnny Mercer, were introduced and the moment of truth finally arrived. Since there were some 47 categories we are naturally not going to list them all, however, we are going to let you in on all the big ones.
The biggest shock of the evening probably came when the Beatles, although up for nine awards, failed to bag even one! Another surprise occurred in the Best New Artist category. Nominees were the Byrds, Herman’s Hermits, Horst Jankowski, Tom Jones, Marilyn Maye, Sonny & Cher and Glen Yarbrough. With Sonny & Cher sealed at one of the front tables, Tom Jones was named the winner! Sonny & Cher both looked shocked at the announcement but after a split second they joined in the thunderous applause for Tom who picked up his award in New York.
Roger Miller repeated his last year’s success by walking away with the most Grammys, six to be exact. Roger picked up four of them in the country and western field, one for Best Contemporary Rock ‘n’ Roll Vocal Performance by a male and another for Best Contemporary Rock ‘n’ Roll single which, of course, was ‘King Of The Road’.
But the biggest winner as far as the Hollywood crowd was concerned was the man with the horn — Herbie Alpert. Fittingly enough, Herb’s first award was presented to him by the great Louis Armstrong for the Best Instrumental Arrangement won by ‘A Taste Of Honey’.
It was really the most dramatic presentation of the evening because there was a mix-up and just as Louis said, “the winner is,” the band began playing ‘A Taste Of Honey’ and the entire audience rose to give Herb a standing ovation!
Alpert then went on to win Grammys for Best Instrumental Performance, Non-Jazz, Record Of The Year and Larry Levine picked up an award for engineering Herb’s recording of ‘A Taste Of Honey’.
Levine gave the funniest acceptance speech of the evening when he announced: “I’d like to thank Gold Star for giving me a job, Phil Spector for making me an engineer and Herbie Alpert for being Mexican!” The audience doubled over with laughter because, as you no doubt know, Herbie is Jewish — not Mexican.
Everyone was amazed that with three Sinatras now in the music business, not one of them was present to accept Frank Sr.’s awards. Sinatra’s LP, September Of My Years, won an award for Stan Cornyn for writing the Best Album Notes as well as a Grammy for Sinatra as Album Of The Year. ‘It Was A Very Good Year’ picked up an award as Best Arrangement Accompanying A Vocalist which went to Gordon Jenkins as the arranger. Best Vocal Performance by a male also went to Sinatra for ‘It Was A Very Good Year’.
‘The Shadow Of Your Smile’ was named the Song Of The Year, winning out over ‘Yesterday’, ‘King Of The Road’, ‘September Of My Years’ and ‘I Will Wait For You’.
James Brown captured an award for Best Rhythm & Blues Recording with his ‘Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag’ and darling Jody Miller was on hand to accept her award for ‘Queen Of The House’ as Best C&W Vocal Performance by a female. Pet Clark beat out Barbara Lewis, Fontella Bass, Lesley Gore and Jackie DeShannon to win the Best Contemporary Rock ‘n’ Roll Vocal Performance by a female for her ‘I Know A Place’.
And thus the awards went on and on until after midnight. The winners were naturally thrilled and honored to be chosen by the National Academy Of Recording Arts and Sciences and the losers smiled bravely as they were assured that to even be nominated was an honor in itself. And it is an honor when you consider that there are thousands of records released annually.
The presentation of the last award was not a signal for the audience to leave — as it turned out, it was the signal for a mass exodus to Herbie Alpert’s table! Photographers converged upon the smiling Herbie with just about everyone else in the Ballroom rushing over to congratulate him.
Pictures taken and congratulations conferred the guests slowly began to file out of the hotel. And the Eighth Annual Grammy Awards were officially over. It had been quite an experience for everyone involved — including us!
© Louise Criscione, Carol Deck, KRLA Beat, 9 April 1966