The Paul McCartney Project

“Let It Be” gets a Grammy Award

Tuesday, March 16, 1971 • Posted in “A day in the life
Grammy Awards
Timeline More from year 1971
Hollywood Palladium, Los Angeles, California

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During the 13th Annual Grammy Awards, George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney & Ringo Starr received a Grammy Award for “Let It Be“, for the Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or a Television Special.

As Paul & Linda McCartney had just arrived in Los Angeles to finish the work on the album “Ram”, they went and collect the award. None other Beatles were present. From

[…] Yet possibly the most memorable presentation of the night—besides an entertainingly sloppy and much referenced presentation by soul singer/songwriter Brook Benton who seemed to be speaking more gibberish than English, and after which Williams jokingly reminded the audience, “We’re coming to you live tonight…”—came when another Duke besides Ellington took the stage to present a GRAMMY—John Wayne himself, who presented the award for Best Original Score Written For A Motion Picture Or Television Special. The GRAMMY went to the Beatles for the Phil Spector-produced Let It Be (an album and quasi-documentary film) over such other distinguished nominees as Johnny Mercer with Henry Mancini (Darling Lily), Alfred Newman (Airport), Johnny Mandel (MAS*H) and Fred Karlin (The Sterile Cuckoo). Paul McCartney clearly thrilled the crowd by appearing to accept the award, bringing his wife Linda onstage. The surprise, last minute appearance was a well-guarded secret with only a few GRAMMY officials aware that the first live telecast would be graced by an appearance by the man they call the Cute One.

Though McCartney’s actual acceptance comments were exceedingly brief (“Thank you. Goodnight.”), the visual of the happy couple standing beside the great Western star remains forever priceless—True Grit with a real Beatle.

From “The Grammys” by Thomas O’Neil

“[Bridge Over Trouble Water, by Simon & Garfunkel] swept the top honours”, wrote the L.A. Times, “but it was ex-Beatle Paul McCartney, in a rare public appearance, who created the most excitement” at the ceremony. “Though the event was strictly black tie, McCartney strolled in wearing a blue suit, red flower shirt and open at the neck, and white tennis shoes.”

Like Simon & Garfunkel, the Beatles broke up in 1970 but still had a bounty of nominations (six) for their farewell LP, Let It Be. They won only one award — for Best Original Score written for a Motion Picture or TV Special – after losing Record and Song of the Year nods (in a close contest, according to the Washington Post) to “Bridge.” But “there were shrieks of surprise” from the audience when the winner of the best film score was announced, the Times reported. “With Linda at his side, McCartney raced up to the podium to accept the award from actor John Wayne, saying only, ‘Thank you.'”

Variety columnist Army Archerd added, “Paul McCartney kept his word, returned to the press tent after the awards — and, as expected, had to plough his way thru a mob to reach his car with (expectant) wife Linda. McCartney, informally attired (would you believe sneakers?), admitted, ‘I didn’t know whether they’d let me in.'”

Interviewed after the ceremony, Paul declared:

I have a knife and a fork and I’m here to cut a record

Paul McCartney
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Last updated on June 7, 2020

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