DEAR JERRY: Your column on major rock artists of the 1950s and '60s being ignored by the Grammy Awards has me wondering how many top acts from those days did buck the odds and win a Grammy? For example, what about the Beatles?
William Mansfield, Madison, Wisc.
DEAR WILLIAM: Wonder no longer, let's begin with the Beatles. They should have won more but they did collect four Grammys, which would
have provided one for each member to take home:
1964: Best New Artist, and Best Performance By a Vocal Group: “A Hard Day's Night.”
1967: It seems a bit redundant, but “Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band” won in two very similar categories: Album of the Year, and Best Contemporary Album.
Among that era's top performers not named Beatles, here are some familiar stars you might think won at least once back then, but did not: Paul Anka; Beach Boys; Chuck Berry; Pat Boone; Dave Clark Five; Sam Cooke; Neil Diamond; Fats Domino; Drifters; Everly Brothers; 4 Seasons; Connie Francis; Marvin Gaye; Brenda Lee; Jerry Lee Lewis; Little Richard; Dean Martin; Miracles; Monkees; Rick Nelson; Roy Orbison; Platters; Righteous Brothers; Rolling Stones; Supremes; and Jackie Wilson.
In later decades, a few from this pack managed to join the winner's circle:
Neil Diamond in 1973 for Album of Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture Or a Television Special: “Jonathan Livingston Seagull.”
Roy Orbison picked up five Grammys, solo and with others, but none earlier than the '80s:
1980 Best Country Performance Duo Or Group: “That Lovin' You Feelin' Again,” with Emmylou Harris.
1986 for Best Spoken Word Or Non-Musical Recording: “Interviews from the Class of '55 Recording Sessions,” with Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Rick Nelson, Sam Phillips, and Chips Moman.
1988 for Best Country Vocal Collaboration: “Crying,” with k.d. lang.
1989 for Best Rock Performance By a Duo Or Group with Vocal: “Traveling Wilburys Volume One,” with George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Bob Dylan, and Tom Petty, collectively the Traveling Wilburys.
1990 for Best Pop Vocal Performance (Male): “Oh, Pretty Woman” (from the 1987 televised concert, “A Black & White Night”).
Marvin Gaye in 1982 for Best R&B Vocal Performance (Male) and Best R&B Instrumental Performance: “Sexual Healing.”
The Miracles (Featuring Smokey Robinson) may not have won, but solo Smokey did, in 1987 for Best R&B Vocal Performance (Male): “Just to See Her.”
Likewise, the Beach Boys did not win but Brian Wilson did, in 2004 for Best Rock Instrumental Performance: “Mrs. O'Leary's Cow,” from the “Brian Wilson Presents Smile” album.
Fortunately, some on our neglected list were eventually honored in a catch all category, and presented a Lifetime Achievement Award: Chuck Berry (1984); Rolling Stones (1986); Fats Domino (1987); Little Richard (1993); Everly Brothers (1997); Sam Cooke (1999); Beach Boys (2001); Jerry Lee Lewis (2005); Dean Martin (2009); and Brenda Lee (2009).
Okay, great, but WTF? Where's Connie Francis?
Obviously, Connie and some other very deserving performers have yet to be honored by The Recording Academy, especially: Paul Anka; Drifters (Featuring Clyde McPhatter and Ben. E. King); 4 Seasons (Featuring Frankie Valli); Platters (Featuring Tony Williams); Righteous Brothers; Supremes (Featuring Diana Ross); and Jackie Wilson.
It's too late to modify dreadful choices made in the 1950s and '60s, but whether or not to atone with Lifetime Achievement Awards for some of our true legends is clearly a no-brainer. Just do it!
IZ ZAT SO? Here is one way to quantify how long The Recording Academy shunned rock music:
Not until 1983 -- a total of 23 years of Grammy Award Presentations -- was the Record of the Year enough of a Top 40 R&R sound to be considered too “hard” for the softer Adult Contemporary, Easy Listening, Middle-of-the-Road, and Jazz formats.
Breaking the ice that year was Michael Jackson's “Beat It.”