ZANG TUMMM TUMB ARTICLES “the first draft of history”

The British record industry awards

You saw Prince. You heard Frankie. You felt the warmth of Wham!s sun tans. You watched the TV show but now read THE FULL STORY! Somewhere—among the chinking glasses, catty comments and popping flashbulbs—Neil Tennant is keeping a seat for you. Colour photos: Paul Rider.

Its seven oclock on a freezing Monday evening in London and, outside the posh Grosvenor House Hotel, a large crowd of girls are, inexplicably, bawling “The Union Of The Snake” at the tops of their voices.

Not that inexplicably, actually. Admittedly, hordes of pop stars are flooding into the hotel but Duran Duran are nowhere in sight.

The reason for the avalanche of pop stars is, of course, the presentation of the 1985 British Record Industry Awards. In previous years this has been a comparatively quiet affair with the awards doled out over lunch but this year its an extravaganza based on the American Grammy awards: live TV coverage, lashings of stars, a slap-up meal, performances on stage by famous faces etc.

I arrive at the hotel just after Pete Townshend of The Who and just before Nick Heyward. In the queue for the cloakroom, all the men are wearing bow ties and dinner jackets and trying to impress their friends and rivals in the music business.

“Peter Frampton…” I hear one say to another. “There was a man who was a poster and became a legend.”

In other words, a lot of rubbish is going to be talked tonight and a lot of backs slapped as the wine flows.

Photographers are in a frenzy in the foyer snapping anyone remotely famous, like Bob Geldof and Paula Yates, Howard and Jan Jones, Meat Loaf, Toyah… I buy a refreshing gin-and-tonic in the bar and have a little chat with Nick Heyward whos looking very chic in a black moiré suit.

“I try to make the effort,” he murmurs modestly and tells me about his new record until Peter Powell interrupts and we reminisce about old Oxford Road Shows. Hes not with Janice Long (as I know you were wondering). “Shes got to work tonight,” he explains. Anyway, then David Grant starts talking to Nick and I wander through the bar, past Neil Kinnock whos here with his wife, Glenys, and two kids, and nearly bump into Alison Moyet arriving with her husband.

Screams are drifting down the stairs from outside: Frankie Goes To Hollywood are arriving. And the bar is buzzing with speculation that Prince is in town and will be coming to the ceremony. Will he turn up?


Time for dinner.

(cont.)
As I sit down, Nik Kershaw and his wife scurry past, pursued by photographers, looking for their table. A minute later, Sting and Trudi Styler emerge from the opposite direction, looking equally lost. Stings new haircut and dinner suit give him a gaunt and glamorous look; Trudi looks very pregnant. Oooh! Theres Kim Wilde and her father.

Discontent is seething in the press tables where Im sitting. All us poor hacks are up in the balcony above the main hall where all the important guests are dining. The man from The Star and the man from the London Evening Standard keeping trotting off to see whos here. I tuck into the smoked salmon, followed by vegetable soup—or Creme de Legumes, as it says on the menu—duck, profiteroles and bottles of wine, chilled in buckets of ice. All quite acceptable, really, even if it is a bit like “punk never happened”.

One photographer at my table asks another if hes going to hang round in the foyer to photograph Wham! when they arrive.

“Oh God, no!” he replies. “They always look the same.”

Lesley Ann Jones flits from table to table, one minute chatting to the man from The Sun, the next marching past with Holly Johnsons German friend, Wolfgang.


After the meal, we get speeches from officials of the British Phonographic Industry whove organised the event, saying things like “One in every four records sold anywhere has a British connection” (which is quite impressive when you think about it).

Upstairs, the speeches are immediately forgotten when an enormous entourage of photographers, hangers-on and heavies mill across the floor. And in their centre is… PRINCE! Tiny enough to make Nik Kershaw look tall, an expression somewhere between sulkiness and embarrassment on his face, he disappears into a side door, followed by a ripple of applause.

A few minutes later, Mike Smith takes up his position in front of television cameras just a few yards in front of me and the live TV transmission of the awards commences.

You probably saw it all on TV anyway—in fact you probably saw and heard more than me, because in the Great Hall it was often difficult to hear what was going on over the constant buzz of conversation. Holly Johnsons remark about having had “sex on the

telephone” with Prince came over loud and clear but Princes mumbled thank-yous were just about inaudible.

From where Im standing I have a perfect view of Elaine Paige who applauds Sade most enthusiastically. Until he accepts his second award—after which he leaves—Prince and his two bodyguards sit at the same table as Strawberry Switchblade. “What did you talk to me about?” I ask them.

“We were struck dumb,” confesses Jill. Apparently there was no conversation whatsoever.


Once the broadcast is over, a lot of people start to leave, although celebrations continue ‘til one. David Cassidy marches out, not quite as tanned as George Michael whos almost orange. He looks very well, actually, and while departing amid the usual gaggle of photographers, stops and says ‘Hello to me, before having his pic taken with Mark OToole.

The Frankie lads are looking pretty “bladdered”, as youd expect, discussing where to go on to. They settle on the Embassy club where two of Marks brothers are playing in a group called Phantasee. Holly is wandering round, very relaxed: “Ello, lar,” he says, “Im pissed.”

And hes not the only one. Strawberry Switchblade, their manager and me, set off to find Bronski Beats dressing-room but somehow end up in the kitchens. Instead, we nip into a little room where Gary Crowley interviews Rose and Jill for cable TV, and I have a word with Elaine Paige about what Prince said when she presented him with one of his awards: “Sounded like ‘mumublemumblemumble to me and I was standing next to him.”

Right beside her, Neil Kinnock is being questioned by journalists. Its just a few hours since Clive Ponting was found innocent and Kinnock is busy telling the press that “responsibility” goes “right to the top” when his wife tells him its time they went home.

“Coming, Glen,” he shouts and they leave.

And so, a few minutes later, do I.


Who won what

  • Best British Male Artist: Paul Young
  • Best British Female Artist: Alison Moyet
  • Best British Group: Wham!
  • Best British Producer: Trevor Horn
  • Best British Single: “Relax” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood
  • Best International Artist/Group: Prince And The Revolution
  • Best British LP: “Diamond Life” by Sade
  • Best Film Soundtrack: “Purple Rain” by Prince
  • Best Comedy Award: “Hole In My Shoe” by neil
  • Best British Newcomer: Frankie Goes To Hollywood
  • Best British Video: “The Wild Boys” by Duran Duran
  • Outstanding Contribution to British Music: The Police
  • Special Award: Bob Geldof and Midge Ure