The History of the GRAMMYS

The Grammys are considered the musical equivalent of the Oscars in the movie world. They are awarded by the National Recording Academy of the United States for outstanding achievements in the music industry and are among the most exciting events on the celebrity calendar, attracting large audiences every year. The annual awards ceremony usually takes place in February and its advent dates back to the 1950s, being closely related to the Hollywood Walk of Fame project. The first ceremony was held on May 4, 1959, but how did it all start?

From sidewalk to Staples Centre, Los Angeles

In 1953 E. M. Stuart came up with a way to celebrate Hollywood by embedding five-pointed terrazzo and brass stars with celebrity names into a stretch of sidewalk, calling it the Walk of Fame. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce asked for the help of major recording industry executives in compiling a list of people in the music business who should be honoured by Walk of Fame stars. The music executives decided that their list of honourees was too long to fit on the Walk of Fame, so they formed the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences to focus solely on the recording industry.

Walk of fame star
That’s how in 1958 the academy created an award to honour those in the field of music and they called it the Grammy, named after the music listening device invented by Thomas Edison in 1877 – The Gramophone. On May 4th, 1959 the first Grammy awards were held in the Beverly Hilton hotel with 28 categories. Frank Sinatra and Peggy Lee were beaten up for record of the year by none other than the Domenico Modugno.

Throughout the following decades the Grammys were held in four different cities – New York, LA, Nashville, and Chicago. The ceremony was broadcast on NBC as a series of specials throughout the year. In 1971 the first live Grammy ceremony was televised on ABC from the Hollywood Palladium. CBS bought the rights in 1973 and has kept them since. In response to losing the Grammys, ABC created the American Music Awards.

The actual trophy that is presented to the winners is also a work of art as each one is hand crafted and produced by Billings Artworks in Colorado. Since each trophy is engraved with the name of the artists, the actual trophies are not presented till after the awards. During the ceremony prop trophies are presented to the winners prior to them receiving the actual one.

The Golden Era of Music

The following years are filled with historic moments as the period from 1960s - 1990s is widely recognised as the Golden Era of Music. From 1968 to 1975 Aretha Franklin has won the most consecutive Grammys in the same category, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, an unmatched record to this day. In 1968, 1973 and 1975 Elvis Presley wins his three Grammy awards but despite being the King of Rock ’n’ Roll, all of his awards were for gospel songs! 
In 1989 the Grammys added categories for rap and heavy metal with the rap award going to DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince resulting in Will Smith's first Grammy win, while the metal award was taken by Jethro Tull who were competing against Metallica. In 2000 Carlos Santana won 8 Grammys for his album Supernatural, tying the record for most Grammys won by a single performer in one night held by Michael Jackson in 1984 with Thriller.

Georg Solti holds the record for winning the most Grammys, having received 31 in his career. He also holds the record for most awards in the classical field as well! Beyonce is right after him with 28 awards holding the record for the female artist with most Grammys. 

In 2008 after decades of bouncing back and forth between cities, the Grammy ceremony found its home at the Arena, formerly known as Staples centre. This marked a return to Los Angeles, the city that it was born in. This is where history is about to be written once again as the 65th Grammy ceremony is just around the corner and about to be held on the 5th of February 2023. 



  • Music