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Music News and Highlights, 1979

1979 Grammy Awards
presented February 15

Record of the Year "Just the Way You Are", Billy Joel
Album of the Year Saturday Night Fever, Bee Gees, et. al.
Song of the Year "Just the Way You Are", Billy Joel
New Artist of the Year A Taste of Honey
Pop Performance, Female "You Needed Me", Anne Murray
Pop Performance, Male "Copacabana", Barry Manilow
Pop Performance, Group Saturday Night Fever, Bee Gees
Pop Performance, Instrumental Children of Sanchez, Chuck Mangione
Rhythm and Blues Performance, Female "Last Dance", Donna Summer
Rhythm and Blues Performance, Male "On Broadway". George Benson
Rhythm and Blues Performance, Group All and All, Earth, Wind, and Fire
Rhythm and Blues Performance, Instrumental "Runnin'", Earth, Wind, and Fire
Jazz Performance, Vocal All Fly Home, Al Jarreau
Jazz Performance, Solo Montreux '77 - Oscar Peterson, Oscar Peterson
Jazz Performance, Big Band Live in Munich, Thad Jones and Mel Lewis
Country Performance, Female Here You Come Again, Dolly Parton
Country Performance, Male "Georgia On My Mind", Willie Nelson
Country Performance, Duo or Group "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys", Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson
Country Performance, Instrumental "One O'Clock Jump", Asleep at the Wheel
Country Song "The Gambler", Don Schlitz
Gospel Performance, Contemporary or Inspirational "What A Friend", Larry Hart
Gospel Performance, Traditional "Refreshing", Happy Goodman Family
Ethnic or Traditional Recording "I'm Ready", Muddy Waters
Latin Recording Homenaje a Beny Moro, Tito Puente
Original Score for a Motion Picture Close Encounters of the Third Kind, John Williams
Score from an Original Cast Show Ain't Misbehavin', Thomas Z. Shepard
Classical Album Brahms: Concerto for Violin in D Major, Itzhak Perlman, with Carlo Maria Giulini conducting the Chicago Symphony
Recording for Children The Muppet Show, Jim Henson
Comedy Recording A Wild and Crazy Guy, Steve Martin
Kenny Rogers Country Music Awards

The Charlie Daniels Band won three Country Music Association Awards (on October 8): one for the single "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," one for being the Instrumental Group of the Year, and one for Daniels as Instrumentalist of the Year. Kenny Rogers (left) was also a three-award winner: he was voted Male Vocalist of the Year; his best-selling The Gambler was named Album of the Year; and his duet with Dottie West, "Till I Can Make It On My Own," earned them the Duo of the Year award. Willie Nelson was named Entertainer of the Year, Barbara Mandrell was named Best Female Vocalist, and the Statler Brothers were named Best Group.

The Disco Craze

The Bee Gees, whose soundtrack for Saturday Night Fever sparked the disco craze, continued as chart-toppers with the "follow-up" album Spirits Having Flown, which hit #1 on the album chart on March 3. Three singles from the album -- "Tragedy," "Too Much Heaven," and "Love You Inside Out" -- went to #1 on the singles chart. Chic also continued its disco dominance with "I Want Your Love" from C'est Chic and "Good Times" from Risque.

Donna Summer and Gloria Gaynor continued to reign as queens of the discos. Gaynor (right) went to #1 on March 10 with "I Will Survive," from the album Love Tracks. Summer went to #1 on June 2 with "Hot Stuff" and with "Bad Girls" on July 14, and her Greatest Hits -- On the Radio -- Volumes I & II went to #1 on the album chart in January 1980. Gloria Gaynor
The Village People (right) failed to hit the top of the charts in 1979, but their earlier singles "Macho Man," "Y.M.C.A.," and "In the Navy" remained extremely popular. Other groups to enjoy success in the disco realm during the year included The Electric Light Orchestra with "Don't Bring Me Down" and Sister Sledge with "He's the Greatest Dancer." Village People
Rod Stewart Some of the best-known names in the "popular" music world responded to the disco craze with their own entries into the genre. Rod Stewart (left) went to #1 on February 10 with "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" Diana Ross recorded "The Boss," Cher joined in with "Take Me Home," and Barbra Streisand added the single "The Main Event," from her movie of the same name.
Artists from outside the "popular genre" also joined the disco movement, at least temporarily. The Boston Pops Orchestra, led by the late Arthur Fiedler, recorded Saturday Night Fiedler, a disco "symphony." Broadway's musical comedy star Ethel Merman surprised everyone with her Ethel Merman Disco Album (right), on which she sang seven Broadway standards in her "usual style" but with "disco-style" instrumentation. There was even a Mickey Mouse Disco album that included both "disco-fied" versions of Disney classics and "Disney-fied" versions of disco classics. Ethel Merman Disco Album

Disco also helped send several new recording artists to the top of the charts, including twenty-four-year-old actress-dancer Amii Stewart, whose "Knock on Wood" hit #1 on April 21, and 22-year-old substitute teacher Anita Ward, whose "Ring My Bell" reached the top on June 30.

anti disco riot at Comiskey Park Disco wasn't popular with everyone, however. On July 12, Chicago disc jockey Steve Dahl hosted Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park, between games of a White Sox-Tigers double header. At the climax of the event, a crate filled with disco records was blown up on the field. Tens of thousands of Dahl's adherents had packed the stadium for the event, and after Dahl blew up the records thousands of them stormed the field and remained there until dispersed by riot police (left). The White Sox had to forfeit the second game because the playing field was severely damaged by the antidisco demonstrators.

Other Genres

The Eagles topped the chart on November 10 with "Heartache Tonight."

Other established groups to hit the charts (but not #1) in 1979 included: Cheap Trick, with "I Want You to Want Me"; Supertramp, with "Goodbye Stranger"; Dr. Hook, with "When You're in Love With a Beautiful Woman"; and Little River Band, with "Lonesome Loser."

Many established "soft rock" and "middle of the road" solo artists continued to enjoy success in 1979. Longtime favorite Billy Joel (right) hit the Top Ten chart with "My Life," Maureen McGovern had a hit with "Different Worlds," and Anne Murray followed "You Needed Me" and "I Just Fall in Love Again" with "Broken-Hearted Me." Billy Joel
Judy Collins Folk singer Judy Collins (left) turned to pop with Hard Times for Lovers, while soul singer Ray Charles began adding Broadway tunes such as "Some Enchanted Evening" to his live performances.

Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer teamed up for "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)," which reached #1 on November 24.

New Groups

The Knack burst onto the national music scene with its debut album Get the Knack. Most of the band's success was due to the single "My Sharona," which hit the #1 spot on August 25, and stayed there until being knocked off by Robert John's "Sad Eyes" on October 6. Another single from that album, "Good Girls Don't," also made it onto the Top 40 chart.

Deborah Harry Another group to suddenly break onto the American charts was Blondie, with most of the attention being centered on lead singer Deborah Harry (left). The group's third album, Parallel Lines, had enjoyed some success in the United Kingdom after its release in September 1978, but it was the U.S. debut of "Heart of Glass" that shot Blondie to the top of the charts (on April 28), and to stardom.


Dionne Warwick (right) suddenly re-appeared on the music scene, after an absence of several years, with "I'll Never Love This Way Again" and a brand new album, Dionne (in May). Dionne Warwick

In Through the Out Door, Led Zeppelin's first new album in three years (August 15), sparked renewed interest in all their previous releases. Within a short time Led Zeppelin had eight albums on the best-seller charts.

Bob Dylan returned to the recording studio to produce the heavily spiritual Slow Train Coming (August 20), his first studio album in more than a year. It soon went gold, spurring Dylan to make a few of his rare appearances in concerts and on television.

After two years out of the spotlight, Elton John returned with a new image -- without the oversize glasses and flashy outfits. He also had a new collaborator, Gary Osborne, with whom he wrote many of the songs on his new album, A Single Man (October 16, 1978). Another album, Victim of Love, began climbing the charts almost the moment it was released, on October 13, 1979.

Instrumentalist Herb Alpert organized a new backup group and returned to the charts with the Latin-flavored "Rise," which hit #1 on the "Pop Chart" on October 20.

Alice Cooper also made a well-publicized comeback in 1979. He and his new collaborator, Bernie Taupin (Elton John's former partner) produced From the Inside (November), which included the single "How You Gonna See Me Now."

Concerts, Etc.

On January 9, the Bee Gees, along with several other recording stars, staged a benefit concert for UNICEF in the United Nations General Assembly. The proceeds of the record sales were to be donated to the children of the world through relief organizations.

In May, Elton John (right) became the first major international rock star to play in Russia, and his performances there were received with great enthusiasm. Elton John in Russia
Bruce Springsteen MUSE (Musicians United for Safe Energy) staged a series of five concerts at Madison Square Garden in New York City September 9-13. Among the superstars who contributed their talents were Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Graham Nash, Bruce Springsteen (left), James Taylor, the Doobie Brothers, and Crosby, Stills & Nash. The money was to be used to campaign for solar energy.

The Who toured the United States in December to promote their film, Quadrophenia. Eleven persons were trampled to death at the group's concert in Cincinnati, Ohio, on December 3 as thousands of fans tried to get a limited number of general-admission seats. The band did not learn of the tragedy until after the concert had ended.

In addition to Quadrophenia, The Who also appeared in The Kids Are Alright, a film based on a history of their career, which premiered at the Cannes International Film Festival on May 14.

Elvis Costello appeared and performed in Americathon, which was released on August 10.

Other News

Jazz bassist and composer Charles Mingus died on January 5.

Jazz band leader Stan Kenton died on August 25.

Beverly Sills Operatic soprano Beverly Sills (left) retired from her career as a singer in 1979. She then began a new career, as general director of the New York City Opera Company.

In the Year 1979
Arthur Fiedler
Little River Band
Madison Square Garden

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This page was last updated on 12/10/2017.