The Grammys – A History of Award Winners

December 5, 2019

Among the music world’s most prestigious awards are the Grammys. Held annually in the States, they stand to recognise exceptional success across many areas in music, covering everything from the album of the year to the best packaging. During their 62-year history, the awards have paid homage to some of music’s most enduring talents, and more than a few of these have graced the recording rooms of Kore Studies – alongside Amy Winehouse and Florence and the Machine, The Cranberries have recently made it onto the venerated lists of the Recording Academy, being nominated for Best Rock Album of 2020. As the Grammys march into their sixth decade, we thought it was high time to look back over how they’ve developed into one of the music world’s most anticipated events of the year.

Categories – Moving With the Times

When you think of the Grammys, the awards that probably come to mind are Album of the Year, Record of the Year, and Artist of the Year. While these are undoubtedly the most coveted, there’s an array of other awards that recognise achievement in individual genres and all phases of the music production process. In the first-ever award ceremony, there were 28 different categories. This number has waxed and waned over the years, responding to calls to change the format of the awards as well as shifts in the music world itself – in 2009, there were a bewildering 110 categories.

The emergence of new genres of music has been one factor in changing categories at the Grammys. The increasing popularity of rap in the 1980s, for example, led to the Recording Academy opening up the category of Best Rap Performance in 1989, which was won by the irrepressible DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince for ‘Parents Just Don’t Understand’.

Award categories have also been influenced by the different ways we listen to music. The prevalence of home surround-sound systems, for instance, prompted the awards to introduce the category of Best Surround Sound Album in 2005, won that year by the sound engineers and producers of Stevie Wonder’s Genius Love Company.

Aside from new genres and technologies, the structure of the awards has also tried to keep up with societal changes. In a bid to demonstrate more gender equality, separate categories for males and females were abolished in 2012. This doesn’t seem to have worked though – between 2013-2019, just under 12% of all nominees across Record of the Year, Album of the Year, and Song of the Year were female.

Who’s Won the Most Grammys?

Given the glitz and glamour of the award ceremonies, you might expect artists and producers from the world of pop to dominate the Grammys. While artists like Adele and Beyonce have won their fair share of awards, picking up 15 and 22 prizes respectively, the greatest number have gone to an unassuming figure from the realm of classical music. Hungarian composer Georg Solti has received an astonishing 31 awards, and 74 nominations. A great part of his success at the awards was down to his prowess in the opera world – his first Grammy, awarded in 1962 for Best Opera Recording, was for his version of Verdi’s Aida, whilst his last, won in 1997 for the same category, was for his rendition of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger Von Nürnberg.

The Grammy’s Most Memorable Events

When you fill a room with some of the music world’s most famous (and in some cases, egotistical) artists, add a healthy dose of competition and free-flowing alcohol, trouble is bound to arise. The annual ceremony has seen some unforgettable scenes over its 62 years – ranging from the emotionally-moving to the down-right bizarre.

Uninvited guests on stage have been particularly memorable. In 2015, Kanye West – never one to shy away from the limelight – interrupted Beck’s acceptance speech before going backstage to rant about how he thought the prize for Album of the Year should’ve gone to Beyonce. A previous winner of the same award also experienced having attention drawn away from them – in 1998, Bob Dylan was unexpectedly joined onstage by Michael Portnoy, a performance artist, who danced around half-naked with the words ‘Soy Bomb’ painted on his torso.

Clothing has also stood out at the ceremonies – for different reasons. While some artists have caught attention by stripping down to their underwear, others have caused technological advancement by their fashion choice on the night – the dress worn by Jennifer Lopez at the 2000 Grammy Awards apparently triggered the creation of Google’s Image Search.

The Grammys are a central event in the music calendar. With a history stretching back over 60 years, the awards recognise achievement across all areas of music, spanning genres and production phases. Take advantage of Kore’s state-of-the-art recording studios, and you might just find yourself with one in your hands next year.