British Rock & Pop Awards 1979-1981

Note: I see that this post is still getting a lot of views. Please note that it was written in 2014, and has subsequently been superseded by these posts: 1979; 1980; and 1981.

From 1982 (confusingly the 1981 ceremony thanks to the year numbering) onwards, the British Rock & Pop Awards were happening concurrently with the British Record Industry Awards (later the BPI Awards, and even later the BRIT Awards).


The awards for 1979 seem to have taken place on 26th February 1980. Simulcast on BBC TV and BBC Radio 1, and again at the Café Royal, London (see BFI record). Presented by Dave Lee Travis and Sue Lawley. Awards included:

  • Best Single
  • Best Album
  • Best Male Singer
  • Best Female Singer
  • Best Group or Band
  • Radio 1’s Disc Jockeys’ Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Pop Music
  • Daily Mirror Readers’ Award for the Outstanding Pop Personality
  • Nationwide Golden Award for the artist or group with the most all-round family appeal

Presenters included Barron KnightsKate BushMarianne FaithfullAndy Gibb, and Leo Sayer.

Rick Wakeman presented The Police with the Best Album award for Regatta de Blanc.

Kate Bush seems to have either won Best Female Singer for a second year running, or the previous entry was an error (see here). Paul McCartney won the Daily Mirror Readers’ Award.

Dave Lee Travis introduced John Peel to present Jerry Dammers with Radio 1’s Disc Jockeys’ Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Pop Music for his work with The Specials. Apparently Gary Numan also won “multiple awards” (see video entry for next year).


Again presented by Dave Lee Travis and Sue Lawley (see BFI record here) on 24th February 1981. This entry on a Wikipedia talk page is largely apocryphal, but mentions The Jam winning the Best Single Award for Going Underground, which is mentioned in more detail here.

Best Male Singer nominees included:

  • Gary Numan
  • Cliff Richard
  • Paul McCartney
  • David Bowie

Winner: David Bowie. Presented by Lulu. See also image here and entry here. There’s an alternative recording of the video here.

Ultravox were nominated for Best Video for Passing Strangers, but failed to win.

Showaddywaddy were also in attendance according to this page, and MadnessAdam and the Ants, Hazel O’ConnorHot ChocolateMadness, and Ronnie Hazlehurst and His Orchestra all performed (see here).


The 1981 ceremony took place on 8th February 1982 at the Lyceum, London, and were presented by Dave Lee Travis and Sue Cook (see BFI record).

Ultravox won the Best Single award for Vienna (see here). Toyah Willcox won the Best Female Singer award (see Daily Mirror article here and record company coverage here, but note that her IMDB biography is incorrect). She also performed I Want to Be Free:

Shakin’ Stevens also won the Best Male Singer award (see here), while Duran Duran were nominated for Best Newcomer, and performed Girls on Film and My Own Way (see here). Bananarama performed Shy Boy (see here).

If you would like to see the comparison, the 1982 BRIT Awards are covered here.

This series will continue next week with 1982.


6 thoughts on “British Rock & Pop Awards 1979-1981

  1. Pingback: Revisiting The British Rock & Pop Awards | Music for stowaways

  2. Pingback: The British Rock & Pop Awards 1979 | Music for stowaways

  3. Pingback: The British Rock & Pop Awards 1980 | Music for stowaways

  4. Pingback: The British Rock & Pop Awards 1981 | Music for stowaways

  5. 1978 – best band – The Police
    best album – The Police – Regatta De Blanc
    best single – The Boomtown Rats – I Don’t Like Mondays
    best male singer was I think Gary Numan

    A definite lurch towards the new wave after the more middle of the road 1978 results – I’m guessing there was a younger crowd voting.

    1980 – best band – The Police
    best album – The Police – Zenyatta Mondatta
    best single – The Jam – Going Underground

    1981 – best band – Adam & The Ants
    best album – Human League – Dare
    best single – Ultravox – Vienna

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