On this day in 1984, Michael Jackson swept the 26th annual Grammy Awards, winning eight trophies, for everything from Record and Album of the Year ("Beat It" and Thriller) to Best Recording for Children (timeless children's classic, the E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial soundtrack). No doubt because of Jackson's presence, the telecast remains the most watched in history; Whitney Houston's death this year almost helped the Grammys break that record, but it still came up about four million viewers short of the 43.8 million who watched in 1984.
But there were other winners that night. Rounding out the "Big 4" categories: Sting won "Song of the Year" for writing The Police's "Every Breath You Take" and the coveted Best New Artist award went to Culture Club (which had scored three Top 10 singles off of its debut album in the U.S., the first band since The Beatles to do so).
Elsewhere, former Cincinnati Bengals defensive lineman Mike Reid won Best Country Song for writing "Stranger in My House" for Ronnie Milsap and the crappy movie Flashdance was all the rage, winning Irene Cara "Best Vocal Performance, Female" for "Flashdance (What A Feeling)" and Giorgio Moroder "Best Instrumental Composition" for "Love Theme from Flashdance", while the soundtrack won the awkwardly titled "Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or a Television Special."
Best R&B Instrumental Performance went to Jazz legend Herbie Hancock's "Rockit," the first popular single to feature DJ scratching (by pioneering turntablist, GrandMixer D.) and the first time "Hip Hop" was accepted by the Grammy committee. It would be five years before the awards added a "Rap" category, though that year (1989), most nominees (including winners DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince) boycotted the ceremony because it was one of the awards not given out during the telecast.
Here's Hancock, his band and D. St. doing "Rockit" live:
Click the jump for Born This Day featuring Rolling Stones co-founder Brian Jones.
Born This Day: Musical movers and shakers sharing a Feb. 28 birthday include sideman, songwriter and singer ("Games People Play") Joe South (1940); singer with New Wave pioneers The B-52's, Cindy Wilson (1957); frontman for Pop/Rock hit makers Train, Patrick Monahan (1969); Country star Jason Aldean (1977); and The Rolling Stones' cofounder/guitarist Brian Jones (1942).
Jones would have been 70 today had he not died in1969, drowning in a swimming pool while partying (the AP report on his death began, "A midnight swim with a bikini clad Swedish blonde ended in death Thursday for former Rolling Stone Brian Jones — a one time garbage collector who became the pop idol of millions"). Would he have returned to the Stones and still be touring with them? Would they still have made Disco songs? A noted explorer of World music and exotic instruments, would Jones have gone solo? Would he have been a star on his own or would he have moved to Morocco and disappeared from the pop culture landscape completely? We'll never know, of course.
Jones was responsible for a lot of the more unique instrumentation found on the Stones' earlier albums, from the recorder on "Ruby Tuesday" and the sitar on "Paint It Black" to the marimba on "Under My Thumb" and the autoharp on the Keef-sung "You Got the Silver," Brian's last recording with the Stones.