Elvis and the Grammy Awards

Most fans are aware Elvis won only three Grammy Awards, and that they were all for Gospel recordings.  There’s a lot more to the story.

 

How could the King of Rock & Roll not win any Grammys for his rock & roll records?  One big reason is that the Grammy awards did not start until 1958.  In 1956 and 1957, Elvis changed the sound of popular music and had hit after hit.  If there had been Grammy Awards for those years, Elvis surely would have won a cabinet full of trophies.  How could he have been denied the title for Best Vocal Performance, Male, or Best Performance By A Top 40 Artist?

 

An Elvis song would have been a shoo-in for Record Of The Year in 1956 with choices like “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Love Me Tender,” “Hound Dog,” and “Don’t Be Cruel.”  The Album of the Year for 1956 would undoubtedly have gone to Elvis’ first RCA album, Elvis Presley.  In 1957, the choices for Record of The Year would have been “Too Much,” “All Shook Up,” “Teddy Bear,” and “Jailhouse Rock”.  ”  Elvis’ Christmas Album was the definitive rock & roll Christmas album of the period and would have been a strong contender for Album of The Year.

 

Elvis was off in Germany in the Army when the Grammy Awards were created in 1958,and he had no nominations.  However, the next year he received three.  “A Fool Such As I” was a nominee for Record of The Year, but got beat by Bobby Darin’s “Mack the Knife,” a really huge hit.  “A Big Hunk of Love” received two nominations.  However, Nat King Cole won Best Performance by A Top 40 Artist for “Midnight Flyer” (I can’t say that I even remember the song), and Dinah Washington won Best R&B Performance for “What A Difference A day Makes.”

 

1960 was Elvis’ best year for Grammy nominations with five, but he was up against Ray Charles who was having a huge year.  “Are You Lonesome Tonight” had three nominations:  Record of the Year, Best Vocal Performance, Male, and Best Performance by a Pop Singles Artist.   “Theme From A Summer Place” by Percy Faith won the Record of the Year, and Georgia On My Mind” by Ray Charles took the other two categories.  He won a total of four Grammys in 1960.

 

Elvis had two album nominations in 1960, both for the GI Blues.  However, Ray Charles beat him again.  The Genius of Ray Charles took the award for Best Vocal Performance, Male, Album.  The Best Soundtrack Album award went to Ernest Gold for Exodus.

 

Elvis had another shot at Best Soundtrack Album in 1961 with Blue Hawaii.  Ray Charles didn’t beat him, but Henry Mancini did with Breakfast At Tiffany’s.

 

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For the next five years Elvis was making movies and none of his songs or albums received Grammy nominations.  In 1967, he finally won a Grammy for Best Sacred Performance for the album How Great Thou Art, which sold over a million copies and reached #18 in the Top Albums Chart.  In 1968, he was nominated in the same category for the single “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” but the award went to Jake Hess for “Beautiful Isle Of Somewhere.” 

 

In 1972 Elvis won his second Grammy when his album He Touched Me took the Best Inspirational Performance award.  In 1974 Elvis won this category again for his third and last Grammy.  But instead of winning for a single or an album, Elvis won for the live version of the song “How Great Thou Art” from the album Elvis Recorded Live On Stage in Memphis.

 

It should be noted that the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences partially rectified their earlier snubs of Elvis by granting him their Lifetime Achievement Award in 1971.

 

 


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7 Responses to Elvis and the Grammy Awards

  1. As far as I know, the Doors and Queen didn’t receive any Grammy’s. What a f**ked system.

  2. Rosemary Larkins

    I enjoyed reading about Elvis’s nominations and winning the 3 Grammys!

    The commentor who spoke of the tribute artist, Portsman–Shouldn’t that be Ben Portsmouth? He was on Letterman last year in February ( the 5th night of tribute artists) and had won at least one contest.

    Rosemary

  3. I’ve followed a dozen or more Elvis tribute artists and Portsman is perhapes the best but I have seen and heard but I have to say having hired Dwight Eisenhower to do a live 90 minute concert at My Cruisin’ Couples Annual Classic Car Show in 2009 he is at least as good as Portman. But none perfom as good as Elvis did live. He was able to reach into the audience and simply touch the audience. He was an original in so many ways but his addicted to adulation & adoration brought him to is death.

  4. But how come Elvis was not awarded the Grammy Legend Award?
    This award started in 1958. Recipients were awarded way beyond their peak years, i.e. Liza Minnelli was awarded in 1990.
    Here are the winners.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grammy_Legend_Award

    • It says “ongoing contribution to _____” – would that mean they will have to still be alive when they get this award ??
      I don’t know but am just asking – sure, it will be great if Elvis can get more Grammys.

  5. Just because Elvis dominated the record charts during 1956-1957 doesn’t mean he “surely would have won a cabinet full of trophies” or “would have been a shoo-in for Record Of The Year.” While the King of Rock & Roll would certainly deserve the Best New Artist of 1956, there’s no guarantee he would have won if such a Grammy existed. The NARAS has a history of voting for artists and recordings that weren’t exactly the biggest or most influential. The Beatles won only two 1964 Grammys (neither for Song or Record of the Year) and then only two more in 1967 before breaking up.

    • Todd, thanks for the comments. It’s gratifying to know that people dig deep into the ElvisBlog archives and read seven-year-old posts. Perhaps I was too exuberant in my assessment of the awards Elvis would have racked up if the Grammies had existed in 1956 and 1957. However, it was written from the viewpoint a person who was a teenager when Elvis burst on the scene and became so huge. He dominated everything: radio play, record sales, concert attendance, fan hysteria. I don’t think the NARA could have ignored this, so I’ll stand by my “cabinet full of trophies” comment.

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