Martin Barre Shares His Regret About Jethro Tull Beating Metallica At The Grammys

In a recent interview with VRP Rocks, Martin Barre opened up about Jethro Tull’s unexpected win against Metallica at the 1989 Grammy Awards with the ‘Crest Of A Knave’ album. He shared a lingering regret linked to that night’s event.

Barre first explained why Jethro Tull wasn’t there to receive the award at the time:

“The record company didn’t think we’d get it, and they said we stood no chance, and they said, ‘Don’t go.’ I really wanted to go. Even as a loser, I wanted to be there. So, I have to say it was their mistake and their lack of confidence in the band.”

He went on to express disappointment about missing the ceremony:

“But what a shame because the biggest moment possibly ever in my career, maybe Ian’s and the others’, it was lost forever. It didn’t come across well that we weren’t there. It just looked really bad.”

‘Crest Of A Knave’ featured Barre, Ian Anderson, and Dave Pegg as the band members, with a sound that leaned heavily on Barre’s guitar as the band did in the 1970s. So, mentioning his pride over the Grammy, the guitarist added:

“Despite that, I’m proud of it, and it’s a big deal. It’s a big deal for me because essentially, it was me, Ian, and Dave Pegg that wrote, arranged, and recorded that album. So, I feel a big part of it. I dare I say I deserve it.”

The 1989 Event And What Happened Afterwards

The Grammy Awards of 1989 introduced a new category, Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Recording, to align with contemporary music trends. Since Jethro Tull competed against the likes of Metallica, Iggy Pop, and Jane’s Addiction during that year’s event, the band’s win caused backlash in the media.

Barre once spoke of that controversy, as reported by Louder Sound, by saying:

“It was unfortunately misplaced in a very awkward section of music they’d come up with. They’re certainly two different categories of music, and they unfortunately threw them together for that one year. It laid it open to misinterpretation. Metallica fitted the bill for that genre and were expected to win, which is why we didn’t go to the ceremony.”

Following the uproar, NARAS created separate categories for Best Hard Rock Performance and Best Metal Performance, and Metallica won in the latter category the next year with ‘One.’

When Metallica won another Grammy for ‘The Black Album’ in 1992, Lars Ulrich sarcastically thanked Jethro Tull for not releasing a record that year.