Here are the weird supergroups the NME Awards could have brought together

Just think what could have been

For a brief period between 1976 and 1983, we handed out individual trophies for the best guitarist, best drummer and so on at the NME Awards. It was, essentially, like constructing our own fantasy football team from music’s elite each year, bringing together combinations that you’d never have thought of otherwise, and others that made perfect sense. Here are the supergroups from each year those categories existed.

1976

NME readers were pretty unanimous in their love for Led Zeppelin in 1976, with three of the band’s four members picking up awards. Poor John Paul Jones missed out because, for some reason, we decided not to celebrate bassists. (Most of) Led Zep were joined by Linda Ronstadt on vocals, while Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman added a touch of prog, and Mike Oldfield brought the tubular bells. Meanwhile, that odd combination would have been playing songs by Best Songwriter/Composer victor Bob Dylan. We’d pay to hear that.

Best Female Singer: Linda Ronstadt
Best Male Singer: Robert Plant
Best Keyboardist: Rick Wakeman
Best Drummer: John Bonham
Best Songwriter/Composer: Bob Dylan
Best Guitarist: Jimmy Page
Best Miscellaneous Instrumentalist: Mike Oldfield

1977

Wakeman and Oldfield held on tight for another year in the dream team, but otherwise it was all change in 1977. In came David Bowie, Sex Pistols‘ drummer Paul Cook, and, er, ‘Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina’ singer Julie Covington. The ’70s were a strange time.

Best Male Singer: David Bowie
Best Female Singer: Julie Covington
Best Keyboards: Rick Wakeman
Best Drummer: Paul Cook
Best Misc. Instrument: Mike Oldfield

1978

Of all the years these awards were active, 1978 is probably the group of winners that makes most sense together. With punk in full swing, Debbie Harry took Best Female Singer, while The Clash‘s Mick Jones gained recognition for his guitar chops, and The Stranglers‘ Jean Jacques Burnel and Dave Greenfield made the line-up too.

Best Male Singer: David Bowie
Best Female Singer: Debbie Harry
Best Songwriter: Elvis Costello
Best Guitarist: Mick Jones
Best Bassist: Jean Jacques Burnel
Best Keyboardist: Dave Greenfield
Best Drummer: Keith Moon

1979

Ever wondered what The Jam would sound like fronted by Sting and Kate Bush? Us neither, but clearly NME Awards voters in 1979 did.

Best Male Singer: Sting
Best Songwriter: Paul Weller
Best Guitarist: Paul Weller
Best Bassist: Bruce Foxton
Best Keyboards: Dave Greenfield
Best Drums: Rick Buckler
Best Female Singer: Kate Bush

1980

If you thought The Jam were beloved in 1979, just look at how much affection was thrown their way in 1980. The only other musicians to be honoured in these categories that year were The Stranglers’ Dave Greenfield (for a third year in a row), and Saxa, saxophonist for The Beat.

Best Male Singer: Paul Weller
Best Guitarist: Paul Weller
Best Drummer: Rick Buckler
Best Songwriter: Paul Weller
Best Bassist: Bruce Foxton
Best Keyboardist: Dave Greenfield
Best Other Instrumentalist: Saxa

1981

Another Jam-heavy year, but Siouxsie Sioux made her mark on the awards this time around, winning Best Female Singer. Meanwhile, Dave Greenfield is the Best Keyboardist for a fourth consecutive year – just as well we didn’t give out physical awards in the ’80s or he’d have run out of room to display them.

Best Songwriter: Paul Weller
Best Female Singer: Siouxsie Sioux
Best Male Singer: David Bowie
Best Guitarist: Paul Weller
Best Bassist: Bruce Foxton
Best Drummer: Rick Buckler
Best Keyboardist: Dave Greenfield

1982

Greenfield’s reign came to an end in 1982, largely because there was no Best Keyboardist category that year. His absence aside, the list was almost exactly the same as one year prior – this time Paul Weller bested Bowie to Best Male Singer. Don’t worry, though – The Jam split in 1982, leaving every category wide open.

Best Male Singer: Paul Weller
Best Female Singer: Siouxsie Sioux
Best Songwriter: Paul Weller
Best Guitarist: Paul Weller
Best Bassist: Bruce Foxton
Best Drummer: Rick Buckler

1983

The goth strains of Siouxise Sioux, the widescreen guitar hooks of The Edge, Peter Hook’s post-punk basslines, and the brass parps of ex-Dexys horn section The TKO Horns combined in 1983 for a very strange supergroup. It was completed by Bowie, The Banshees’ drummer Budgie, and Elvis Costello’s keyboardist Steve Nieve. What a mix.

Best Female Singer: Siouxsie Sioux
Best Songwriter: Elvis Costello
Best Male Singer: David Bowie
Best Guitarist: The Edge
Best Drummer: Budgie
Best Miscellaneous Musician: TKO Horns
Best Bassist: Peter Hook
Best Keyboardist: Steve Nieve

The 2018 VO5 NME Awards will take place on Feb 14 at the O2 Academy, Brixton. You can watch the ceremony live on NME’s Facebook page on the night or get tickets here. Don’t forget to vote for your winners, too.