British Record Industry Britannia Centenary Awards 1977

As a general rule, the further back you go in the history of what we now call the BRIT Awards, the harder it becomes to find information about them. And the 1977 ceremony was the very first of the lot, so sure enough finding information about the awards is nigh on impossible. This post is going to be relatively short.

But it needs to be done, so let’s cast ourselves back a long way into the past, right back to October 18th 1977. Michael Aspel is our host, and the venue is Wembley Conference Centre, London.

The event was a celebration of music, but it was also timed to celebrate two anniversaries – it was 100 years since Thomas Edison invented the sound recording, and also the Queen’s Silver Jubilee year. By coincidence, it was also almost exactly 25 years since the publication of the first UK chart, but it’s not clear to me whether anybody realised this at the time. Nominations were for the best music of the preceding 25 years, which is why they are a little eclectic in places, although for all of that, there’s a very definite 1970s bias.

Best British Album


  • Elton John – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973)
  • Mike Oldfield – Tubular Bells (1973)
  • The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
  • Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon (1973)

Winner: The Beatles.

Best British Female


  • Cleo Lane
  • Dusty Springfield
  • Shirley Bassey
  • Petula Clark

Jazz singer Dame Cleo Lane is probably the least famous of the bunch. Despite managing a couple of hit singles in the 1960s, she must have been a lot more popular with “the industry” than the public! Or maybe not…

Winner: Shirley Bassey.

Best British Female Newcomer


  • Bonnie Tyler
  • Julie Covington

Julie, of course, had the honour of recording the original version of Don’t Cry for Me Argentina, which had hit number one in February 1977. An album would follow in 1978, and then she returned to the theatre.

Winner: Julie Covington.

Best British Group

Rather predictable nominees:

  • The Beatles
  • Pink Floyd
  • Rolling Stones
  • The Who

Winner: The Beatles. Who would have thought it?

Best British Male

Another predictable bunch:

  • Cliff Richard
  • Elton John
  • Rod Stewart
  • Tom Jones

Winner: Cliff Richard.

Best British Male Newcomer


  • Graham Parker
  • Heatwave

Here’s an interesting pair. Graham Parker wouldn’t release any solo material until 1979, and so we have to assume that the nomination was for his work with The Rumour, which had included hit singles with Hold Back the Night and Sweet on You earlier in 1977. He would carry on recording for a long time after, but never managed to regain his initial success.

Heatwave, on the other hand, had already had a number two hit with Boogie Nights, and would continue hitting the top twenty for the next three years. So who won?

Winner: Graham Parker. Hindsight, it seems, is a fine thing!

Best Comedy Recording

I’m assuming that’s what this award was for – The BRITs website lists it under the wrong category. Nominees:

  • Monty Python
  • Richard Burton & Cast
  • Tony Hancock

Winner: unfortunately history doesn’t record who won!

Best British Producer


  • George Martin
  • Glyn Johns
  • Gus Dudgeon
  • Mickie Most

As is normal with the Best Producer category, I’ve never heard of most of these, but I’m not proposing looking them up…

Winner: George Martin.

Best British Single


  • 10cc – I’m Not in Love (1975)
  • Procul Harum – Whiter Shade of Pale (1967)
  • Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody (1975)
  • The Beatles – She Loves You (1963)

Winner: a tie, shared by Procul Harum

… and Queen.

Best Classical Recording


  • Janet Baker – Das Lied von der Erde
  • John Williams – Guitar Concerto – Rodrigo

Winner: again, history doesn’t record who won this!

Best International Pop Album


  • Abba – Arrival (1976)
  • Carole King – Tapestry (1971)
  • Simon & Garfunkel – Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970)
  • Stevie Wonder – Songs in the Key of Life (1976)

Winner: Simon & Garfunkel.

Best International Pop Single


  • Elvis Presley – Jailhouse Rock (1957)
  • Frank Sinatra – My Way (1969)
  • Ike & Tina Turner – River Deep, Mountain High (1966)
  • Simon & Garfunkel – Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970)

Elvis, of course, had only passed away a couple of months prior to this ceremony.

Winner: unknown.

Best Orchestral Album


  • Oliver Knussen – War Requiem
  • Otto Klemperer – Beethoven Symphonies
  • Sir Adrian Boult – The Planet Suite
  • Sir Georg Solti – Wagner Ring Cycle

Otto Klemperer is my favourite, mainly because he wouldn’t have looked out of place in a silent movie. Actually, since he was born in 1885, he probably was in one.

Winner: unknown.

Outstanding Contribution

Joint winners: The Beatles and L.G. Wood.

The story of L.G. Wood is sadly forgotten in the internet age (OK, he isn’t on Wikipedia), but the BRITs website describes him as “a remarkable figure”. He was chairman of the BPI and EMI in 1977, and was apparently the person who originally signed The Beatles.


  • Cliff Richard – Miss You Nights
  • George Martin – A Hard Day’s Night
  • Julie Covington – Only Women Bleed
  • Procul Harum – Whiter Shade of Pale
  • Simon & Garfunkel – Old Friends

Further Reading / Viewing