Ross Joins Odd Grammy Club
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.