As the Grammy Awards return tonight, former best new artist nominee Julian Lennon looks back on his experience in 1986 — just after bursting onto the music scene with the release of his platinum debut Valotte.
The album, produced in an all-star session by Phil Ramone, spawned two Top 10 singles — the No. 9 title track and the No. 5 hit “Too Late for Goodbyes.” Named for a French château called Manor de Valotte where many of the songs were composed, Valotte was recorded in part at the Hit Factory in New York — where Lennon’s father John has worked on the Double Fantasy and Milk and Honey projects.
Still, the younger Lennon was just 21 at the time of his nomination, and up against stiff Grammy competition that year amongst a-ha, Freddie Jackson, Katrina and the Waves, and Sade.
“I was very young, naive — I think it was probably the first time I had ever been to the Grammys, so it was big ordeal,” Lennon remembers. “You’re surrounded by all of your peers, and everybody you’ve ever loved in music. It was very nerve wracking, sitting in the audience.”
Sade, having released a pair of well-performing releases in 1984′s Diamond Life and 1985′s Promise, would ultimately win the award. Both recordings went four-times platinum in the U.S. alone.
“You can’t knock that,” Lennon adds. “I was quite happy that she won, but to be counted in as a new artist, and to be up for a Grammy, it was very heartwarming.”
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