Elvis’ Grammy Record
Sunday would have been Elvis Presley's 77th birthday. The Recording Academy didn't give Elvis many presents (he won just three Grammys, all for gospel recordings), but in 1971 they enabled him to set a Grammy record that will probably stand forever. They gave him a Lifetime Achievement Award when he was just 36 years old. Presley was (and remains) the youngest living artist to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award. The Rolling Stones and Stevie Wonder, the next youngest living artists to receive Lifetime Achievement Awards, were in their mid-40s when they received the honor.
I say "living artist" to distinguish Presley, the Stones and Wonder from the many artists who have received posthumous Lifetime Achievement Awards. Three years ago, I made a list of 22 artists who died before their 50th birthdays who later received Lifetime Achievement Awards. (If you missed the list, which included such artists as Buddy Holly, Otis Redding, Robert Johnson and Janis Joplin, here's a link.)
But those artists had died. The academy's only choice was whether to give them this top award or not. With Presley, the Stones and Wonder, the academy could have waited until they were more advanced in years, but decided that their contributions were so important, there was no need to wait.
The academy gave Presley the award in part to make up for past slights. Presley was never nominated for Album of the Year and received just two nominations for Record of the Year. In any event, it's a good thing that the academy gave Presley the honor at such a young age. He died a little more than six years later, in August 1977.
Here's a list of the youngest living artists (or groups) to have received Grammy Lifetime Achievement Awards. They are ranked by their age when they received the honor.
1. Elvis Presley. The king of rock and roll was just 36 when he received the honor in March 1971. He had been a finalist for Record of the Year with 1959's "(Now And Then There's) A Fool Such As I" and 1960's "Are You Lonesome To-night?."
2. The Rolling Stones. The surviving members of the legendary rock and roll band were mostly in their 40s when they received the honor in February 1986. Ronnie Wood was 38, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were each 42, Charlie Watts was 44 and Bill Wyman was 49. The Stones had been nominated for Album of the Year for 1978's Some Girls.