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Brooks, Eagles Win at American Music Awards

January 30, 1996

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Country star Garth Brooks was named artist of the year Monday at the American Music Awards, then left his trophy on the podium out of respect for the other nominees.

Brooks, saying there was no disrespect intended, told the audience he didn’t believe in the concept of an artist of the year, ``so I’m going to leave it here.″ He then walked away.

Brooks said backstage that he did not think it was fair for him to take the award. He said people he spoke to in record stores ``credited Hootie & the Blowfish for turning (record sales) around. I thought that’s who should have gotten it.″

Hootie & the Blowfish, who had the smash debut album ``Cracked Rear View,″ also were nominated for the award, along with Boyz II Men, Green Day and TLC.

Brooks and the reunited Eagles were the evening’s top winners, each receiving three awards.

Brooks won favorite male country artist for the fifth year in a row, and favorite country album for ``Hits.″

He posed for photographers backstage with all three prop trophies. Show spokesman Paul Shefrin said he did not know whether Brooks would accept the actual engraved trophy when it is sent to him.

The Eagles won favorite pop rock album for ``Hell Freezes Over,″ favorite adult contemporary artist and favorite pop group trophies.

``Well, I am glad I showed up tonight,″ said the group’s sole representative, Timothy B. Schmit. Other group members were out of town, he said.

Mariah Carey, Boyz II Men and Pearl Jam were multiple winners as well.

Michael Jackson was named the top pop-rock male artist over Elton John and Seal. Jackson had previously had won 18 competitive or special American Music Awards between 1980 and 1993.

Carey claimed the favorite soul-R&B female artist and favorite pop-rock female artist, while Boyz II Men captured the soul-R&B album honor with ``II″ and the favorite soul-R&B group.

Pearl Jam won for the favorite heavy metal-hard rock act and favorite alternative group.

The 23rd annual awards program was broadcast on ABC from the Shrine Auditorium, with comedians Jeff Foxworthy and Sinbad sharing host duties.

Alabama was once again the top country group, winning a 19th American Music Award.

Group members were asked backstage whether they ever tired of coming up to the awards podium.

``It’s like getting tired of eating,″ said lead singer Randy Owen.

Reba McEntire was named the top female country artist, her 13th American Music Award, while Coolio took the favorite rap-hip hop artist.

Shania Twain won the favorite new country artist and Hootie & the Blowfish was named favorite pop-rock new artist.

Brandy was named favorite new soul-R&B artist and Luther Vandross was the top male soul-R&B artist. ``The Lion King″ was named favorite soundtrack.

Carey, performing in a leather outfit with flared pants, kicked off a 1960s-70s fashion theme for the program, which was followed up by Brandy performing in a shiny blue bell bottoms.

``Oh, would that have been embarrassing,″ Foxworthy said. ``I almost wore that same outfit tonight.″

The show prominently featured stars of past decades as well. Neil Diamond sang a new single, ``Tennessee Moon,″ and Lionel Richie performed ``Don’t Want to Lose You.″

``It’s been a long vacation, believe me,″ Richie said backstage. Richie has 16 American Music Awards to his credit.

The evening’s most emotional moment was Brooks’ performance of ``The Change″ in remembrance of the Oklahoma City bombing. It brought tears to the eyes of audience members.

Hootie & The Blowfish and Boyz II Men were the night’s top contenders, each with five nominations among the 21 categories.

Schmit suggested backstage that there was a possibility of yet another Eagles album. ``The door is not closed, so things are looking good,″ he said.

The Eagles broke up in 1980 and reunited in 1994, despite singer-drummer Don Henley’s declaration that the group would record again ``When hell freezes over.″

Country music’s Tammy Wynette received the special Award of Merit, an honor for outstanding contributions to American musical entertainment.

The awards are based on a national survey of 20,000 record buyers.

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