As promised, today we start our journey through the BRIT Awards ceremonies of the past. We begin way back on 11th February 1985 at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London, where Noel Edmonds is introducing the BPI Awards 1985:
The year we’re celebrating, 1984, is, as we now know, one of the most important years in electronic pop music. This ceremony is also among the best documented of any of them. But having seen what we’ve seen in recent years, this is a fascinatingly corporate affair. As we’ll see Edmonds, the James Cordon of his day, does a great job, but the show is almost entirely lacking in glitz, glamour, or indeed Mr. Blobby. As he says, there were fourteen awards altogether, so based on various online sources here’s my relatively complete record of the 1985 ceremony.
Best British Female Solo Artist
Presented by Sting. Nominees:
- Annie Lennox
- Alison Moyet
- Tracey Ullman
- Kim Wilde
Winner: Alison Moyet.
Best British Album
Presented by Pete Townsend, somewhat the worse for wear. I’m not sure what Noel means when he says “he was the recipient of a special award” – in a previous year perhaps? Anyway, nominees:
- Sade – Diamond Life
- Nik Kershaw – Human Racing
- U2 – The Unforgettable Fire
- Queen – The Works
- Frankie Goes to Hollywood – Welcome to the Pleasuredome
In subsequent years, U2 would be forced into the International categories, so it’s strange that they were nominated here, but there we go.
Best Classical Recording
Presented by Richard Baker out of The 1930s. Nominees:
- Arnold Bax Symphony No. 4 – Ulster Orchestra conducted by Bryden Thomson
- Britten’s The Turn of the Screw – Royal Opera House Orchestra conducted by Sir Colin Davis
- Mozart’s The Magic Flute – Rundfunkchor Leipzig and Staatskapelle Dresden conducted by Sir Colin Davis
- Verdi’s Il Travatore – Orchestra of the National Academy of Santa Cecilia conducted by Carlo Maria Giulini
- Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons – The Academy of Ancient Music conducted by Christopher Hogwood
Winner: Vivaldi‘s Four Seasons.
Best British Group
Presented by Rick Parfitt and Francis Rossi from Status Quo, who at the time had recently given up touring apparently. Before starting again a couple of years later. Nominees:
- Bronski Beat
- Frankie Goes to Hollywood
Best British Producer
Presented by George Martin. Nominees:
- Peter Collins
- Steve Jolley and Tony Swain
- Laurie Latham
- Steve Lillywhite
- Trevor Horn
Apparently it’s about time he won it for the third time running. Winner: Trevor Horn, who seems to have attended with an animal on his head.
Best British Single
Frankie Goes to Hollywood stood a pretty good chance of winning this one. Nominees:
- Bronski Beat – Smalltown Boy
- Frankie Goes to Hollywood – Relax
- Frankie Goes to Hollywood – Two Tribes
- George Michael – Careless Whisper
- Sade – Smooth Operator
Winner: Frankie Goes to Hollywood – Relax.
Best British Male Solo Artist
Presented by Toyah Willcox. Nominees:
- David Bowie
- Howard Jones
- Nik Kershaw
- Paul McCartney
- Paul Young
Unfortunately I can’t work out how to embed this video, but you can watch it in full here.
The winner is, of course, Paul Young.
Best Soundtrack / Cast Recording
Presented by Barbara Dickson and Elaine Paige. Nominees:
- Electric Dreams (various artists)
- Footloose (various artists)
- Give My Regards to Broad Street (Paul McCartney)
- Purple Rain (Prince and the Revolution)
- The Woman in Red (Stevie Wonder and Dionne Warwick)
Winner: Purple Rain.
Best International Artist
Presented by a rather confused Holly Johnson out of Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Nominees:
- Michael Jackson
- Prince and the Revolution
- Lionel Richie
- Bruce Springsteen
- ZZ Top
Winner: a decidedly bemused Prince, but without The Revolution in tow.
Radio 1 Best British Newcomer
Presented by Steve Wright in the afternoon.
Make sure you pay attention to Steve’s advice to stop taping records off the radio. As he says, it’s very, very naughty. Also in a fascinatingly off-colour joke, we learn that apparently Michael Jackson isn’t gay.
Winner: Frankie Goes to Hollywood.
Remember, Relax was banned on BBC Radio 1, so I’m particularly intrigued that their listeners would have voted for them in such numbers!
Runners up: Nik Kershaw (second place), Bronski Beat (third place).
Best Comedy Recording
Presented by “windswept and interesting” Billy Connolly. Nominees:
- Wierd Al Yankovic – Eat It
- Neil (The Young Ones) – Hole in My Shoe
- Roland Rat – Rat Rapping
- Mel Brooks – To Be or Not to Be (The Hitler Rap)
- Alexei Sayle – Ullo John Got a New Motor
Winner: Neil from The Young Ones.
Best British Video
Although the strategy of getting nominated multiple times wasn’t quite as successful for Wham! in the video category. Nominees:
- Duran Duran – Wild Boys
- Wham! – Wake Me Up Before You Go Go
- Wham! – Last Christmas
Winner: Duran Duran.
Winner: The Police.
A special award was given to Bob Geldof and Midge Ure for their work on the Band Aid single.
Just the introductions, I’m afraid…
- Alison Moyet – All Cried Out
- Bronski Beat – Smalltown Boy
- Howard Jones – What is Love?
- Nik Kershaw – Wouldn’t it Be Good
- Tina Turner – What’s Love Got to Do with It
Further Reading / Viewing
- Whispers at the Awards Ceremony (courtesy of ZTT And All That)
- Compilation of acceptance speeches
- 1985 page on brits.co.uk
Edit: by strange coincidence The Guardian decided to celebrate the same ceremony by publishing Neil Tennant‘s review from Smash Hits, which you can read here. Thanks to daveid on the Pet Shop Boys forum for spotting this one.
Edit: removed two videos that are no longer available (13 August 2017).