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—
It’s seven o’clock 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 it’s 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 who’s 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. He’s not with Janice Long (as I know you were wondering). “She’s got to work tonight,” he explains. Anyway, then David Grant starts talking to Nick and I wander through the bar, past Neil Kinnock who’s 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.
Discontent is seething in the press tables where I’m 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 who’s here. I tuck into the smoked salmon, followed by vegetable soup—
One photographer at my table asks another if he’s 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 Johnson’s German friend, Wolfgang.
After the meal, we get speeches from officials of the British Phonographic Industry who’ve 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—
telephone” with Prince came over loud and clear but Prince’s mumbled thank-you’s were just about inaudible.
From where I’m standing I have a perfect view of Elaine Paige who applauds Sade most enthusiastically. Until he accepts his second award—
“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 who’s 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 O’Toole.
The Frankie lads are looking pretty “bladdered”, as you’d expect, discussing where to go on to. They settle on the Embassy club where two of Mark’s brothers are playing in a group called Phantasee. Holly is wandering round, very relaxed: “Ello, lar,” he says, “I’m pissed.”
And he’s not the only one. Strawberry Switchblade, their manager and me, set off to find Bronski Beat’s 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.”Continue »
Right beside her, Neil Kinnock is being questioned by journalists. It’s 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 it’s 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