Diana Ross is among this year's recipients of a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. The odd part? Ross has never won a Grammy in regular competition, either solo, with the Supremes or in high-profile collaborations with such artists as Lionel Richie and Marvin Gaye.
That's got to be a first, right? Far from it. More than a third of the 166 artists who have been voted Lifetime Achievement Awards have never won a Grammy in regular competition. In fact, two of this year's other Lifetime Achievement Award recipients, the late Gil Scott-Heron and the Memphis Horns (which played on dozens of hits released on Stax Records), have never won Grammys.
How can this be? Many of these artists, such as Bing Crosby and Benny Goodman, peaked as recording stars before the Grammys began in 1958.
Many others are rock artists. The Recording Academy had an aversion to rock for most of its first 20 years. Even such rock legends as Led Zeppelin, the Grateful Dead and The Doors never won a Grammy.
Neither of these factors explains Ross' shut-out. Her entire career falls within the Grammy time frame. And she's squarely in the pop/R&B mainstream. How to explain it, then? Grammy voters were oddly slow to embrace Motown. Even some of Motown's biggest stars had to wait years for their first Grammys. Here are a few examples: Stevie Wonder (he didn't win until 1973), Marvin Gaye (not until 1982, after he had left the label) and Smokey Robinson (1987).
Ross received her first Grammy nomination with the Supremes for 1964's "Baby Love." She received her first solo nomination for 1970's "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." She received her highest-profile nomination, Record of the Year, for "Endless Love," her 1981 mega-hit with Lionel Richie.
(This year's four other Lifetime Achievement Award recipients have won Grammys: country legends Glen Campbell and George Jones, 1970s Southern rock superstars the Allman Brothers Band and bossa nova composer Antonio Carlos Jobim, who is best known for writing "The Girl From Ipanema.")
Here are two dozen artists who have been voted Grammy Lifetime Achievement Awards who have never won a Grammy in regular competition. I show when they first made Billboard's pop album or singles chart, whichever came first. I also show when they received their Lifetime Achievement Award. I omitted all artists who first charted before 1955.
Joan Baez. The folk artist first hit The Billboard 200 in November 1961. She had three top 10 albums in the 1960s. Her version of Robbie Robertson's "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" hit #3 on the Hot 100 in November 1971. She received the award in 2007.
The Band. The influential rock band first hit The Billboard 200 in August 1968 with Music From Big Pink. The band had six top 10 albums, including 1974's Planet Waves, a chart-topping collaboration with Bob Dylan. It received the award in 2008.
The Beach Boys. The pop group first hit the Hot 100 in February 1962 with "Surfin." It amassed four #1 hits: "I Get Around," "Help Me Rhonda," "Good Vibrations" and "Kokomo." Group mastermind Brian Wilson won a solo Grammy in 2004. The group received the award in 2001.
Chuck Berry. The rock legend first hit the pop chart in August 1955 with "Maybelline." He returned to the top 10 with such classics as "Rock & Roll Music" and "Johnny B. Goode." He finally reached #1 in 1972 with the novelty "My Ding-A-Ling." He received the award in 1984.
Patsy Cline. The country great first hit the pop chart in February 1957 with "Walkin' After Midnight." She cracked the top 10 in November 1961 with a sublime version of Willie Nelson's "Crazy." She died in a plane crash in 1963. She received the award posthumously in 1995.
Sam Cooke. The soul legend first hit the pop chart in October 1957 with "You Send Me," which hit #1. He had five top 10 hits, including "Chain Gang" and "Another Saturday Night." He was shot to death in December 1964. He received the award posthumously in 1999.
Cream. The band first hit the Billboard 200 in May 1967 with Fresh Cream. It reached #1 in 1968 with Wheels Of Fire. Though Cream never won a Grammy, founding member Eric Clapton has won 17 times. The band received the award in 2006.
Bo Diddley. The singer/guitarist first hit the Hot 100 in July 1959 with "Crackin Up." He cracked the top 20 with 1959's "Say Man." He died of heart failure in 2008. He received the award in 1998.
Fats Domino. The R&B legend first hit the pop chart in July 1955 with "Ain't That A Shame." By 1960, he had amassed 11 top 10 hits, including "Blueberry Hill," "I'm Walkin'" and "Walking To New Orleans." He received the award in 1987.
The Doors. The band first hit The Billboard 200 in March 1967 with The Doors. The band hit #1 with 1968's Waiting For The Sun. It also topped the Hot 100 with a pair of singles, "Light My Fire" and "Hello, I Love You." The band received the award in 2007.
The Everly Brothers. The influential brother duo first hit the pop chart in May 1957 with "Bye Bye Love." By 1960, they had amassed four #1 hits: "Wake Up Little Susie," "All I Have To Do Is Dream," "Bird Dog" and "Cathy's Clown." They received the award in 1997.
The Four Tops. The quartet first hit the Hot 100 in August 1964 with "Baby I Need Your Loving." The Tops scored two #1 hits, "I Can't Help Myself" and "Reach Out I'll Be There." The group received the award in 2009.
The Grateful Dead. The legendary live attraction first cracked The Billboard 200 in May 1967 with its eponymous debut album. The band finally cracked the top 10 in 1987 with In The Dark and its hit single "Touch Of Grey." The band received the award in 2007.
Buddy Holly. The rock legend first cracked the pop chart in August 1957 with the Crickets' "That'll Be The Day," which hit #1. He first charted on his own three months later with "Peggy Sue." He died in a plane crash in February 1959. He received the award posthumously in 1997.
Janis Joplin. The rock icon first hit The Billboard 200 in September 1967 as the lead singer for Big Brother & The Holding Company. She first charted on her own in October 1969, less than a year before she died of a heroin overdose. She received the award posthumously in 2005.
Led Zeppelin. The heavy metal superstars first hit The Billboard 200 in February 1969. While the band never won a Grammy, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page won for a 1998 collabo. Plant won six Grammys for a 2007 album with Alison Krauss. The band received the award in 2005.
Brenda Lee. The pop star first hit the pop chart in March 1957 (at age 12) with "One Step At A Time." She had two #1 hits in 1960, "I'm Sorry" and "I Want To Be Wanted," but is probably best known today for "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree." She received the award in 2009.
Little Richard. The rock and roll legend first hit the pop chart in January 1956 with "Tutti-Frutti." He had four top 10 hits, including "Long Tall Sally" and "Good Golly, Miss Molly." He received the award in 1993.
Bob Marley. The reggae icon and his group, The Wailers, first cracked The Billboard 200 in May 1975 with Natty Dread. Their 1984 compilation Legend is one of the best-selling albums of all time. Marley died of cancer in 1981. He received the award posthumously in 2001.
Johnny Mathis. The romantic balladeer first cracked the pop chart in February 1957 with "Wonderful! Wonderful!." His 1958 album Johnny's Greatest Hits remained on the chart for a then-record 490 weeks. Mathis received the award in 2003.
Curtis Mayfield. Mayfield first hit the pop chart as the lead singer of the Impressions in June 1958. He first made it on his own in 1970. A 1990 accident left Mayfield paralyzed from the neck down. He died in 1999. He received the award in 1995.
Ramones. The influential punk band first hit The Billboard 200 in June 1976 with its album Ramones. Other key albums include Rocket To Russia and End Of the Century. The band received the award in 2011.
The Staple Singers. The gospel-turned-R&B family group first cracked the Hot 100 in June 1967. They peaked with 1972's "I'll Take You There." Pops Staples won a Grammy on his own in 1994. Mavis Staples won one on her own in 2010. The group received the award in 2005.
The Who. The English band first hit the Hot 100 in March 1965 with "I Can't Explain." Their 1969 rock opera Tommy is their most famous work, but Quadrophenia and Who Are You climbed higher on the chart. The band received the award in 2001.
Note: The Rolling Stones almost made this list. In 1986, when they received a Lifetime Achievement Award, they hadn't won a Grammy in regular competition. But they have since won two awards (both in 1994).
The Recording Academy also announced this year's recipients of Trustees Awards, which are for non-performers. They went to Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who died in October; Dave Bartholomew, who is best known for his hit-studded collaboration with Fats Domino; and recording engineer Rudy Van Gelder.
Technical Grammy Awards went to recording engineer Rogers Nichols, who died in April, and the German-based company Celemony. Nichols is best known for his work with Steely Dan.