Metallica Were ‘Gentlemanly’ About 1989 Grammy Loss Says Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson
In 1989, Metallica were heavily favored to win a Grammy for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Vocal or Instrumental — the very first heavy metal award doled out by the establishment. But, in a surprise move, Jethro Tull picked up the win and the night has lived in infamy ever since. But Tull leader Ian Anderson has said that the members of Metallica "were actually very gentlemanly" about the whole ordeal.
The nominees that year were AC/DC (Blow Up Your Video), Iggy Pop (Cold Metal - lyrics), Jane's Addiction (Nothing's Shocking), Jethro Tull (Crest of a Knave) and Metallica (...And Justice For All) and the Jethro Tull victory stunned not only the viewing audience, but other musicians as well. It became one of the most controversial moments in the history of the Grammys and, the following year, two separate award categories were created to acknowledge hard rock and heavy metal independently.
Speaking with St. Louis radio station KSHE 95, Anderson recalled, "Well, I think Metallica were actually very gentlemanly. At the time, they did say, when they did win the Grammy next year, as I predicted they would, they took out a page in Billboard thanking the record company, their friends and family for supporting them, the dog — I mean, they thanked everybody, including Jethro Tull for not releasing a new album that year."
"They had a sense of humor about it," Anderson continued, "They took it on the chin even though everybody was busy telling them they were gonna win a Grammy and then, unfortunately, that year they didn't. But they were the hot new act, and surely they were going to win it the following year, and, of course, they did."
The Grammy win in 1990 for the song "One" was the first of what is now a total of eight Grammy victories for Metallica as their popularity ballooned throughout that decade and beyond. Anderson also admitted in 2020 that he didn't feel Jethro Tull deserved the trophy and that they were likely awarded "for being a bunch of nice guys who’d never won a Grammy before."
Jethro Tull, meanwhile, just released The Zealot Gene, their first album since 2003 and it is a remarkable return to their mid-to-late '70s form when they ruled the roost as a highly influential folk/prog band before giving chase to the changing musical tides and reliance on synthesizers in the '80s.