1. The Grammys were created after a group of record company executives were asked to participate in the Hollywood beautification campaign — which was responsible for choosing the honorees for the Hollywood Walk of Fame — and collectively came to the realization that they didn’t have their own award ceremony like that of the movie or television industry.
2. Shelby Lynne was awarded the Grammy for Best New Artist in 1999, despite being active in the recording business for many years prior and releasing six well-received albums. (Grammy guidelines allow for eligibility in the year of “the recording that first establishes the public identity of that artist as a performer,” rather than simply the artist’s first album.) She acknowledged this fact in her acceptance speech when she said, “Thank you very much. Thirteen years and six albums to get here.”
3. The Grammys were originally called the Gramophone Awards. That explains the small, gilded gramophone statuettes that are presented to the winners.
4. The first Grammy Awards ceremony contained only 28 categories.
5. In 1989, the Fresh Prince (Will Smith) and DJ Jazzy Jeff won the first Grammy for a Rap Performance.
6. Before settling on the term “Grammy,” the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences chose “Eddie” as the nickname for the statuettes given out at their awards ceremony. The nickname was a nod to Thomas Edison, the inventor of the gramophone.
7. These days the Grammys usually consists of more than 70 categories — with most of the awards handed out ahead of the live telecast.
8. The first Grammy Award ceremony was held on May 4, 1959.
9. The Grammy trophies are hand-crafted in Colorado by a team led by sculptor John Billings, who was an apprentice to original Grammy craftsman Bob Graves. Each statuette is molded from a zinc/aluminum alloy (Billings calls it “Grammium” because “it sounds so much more regal”) before being hand-filed, buffed, electroplated in 24-karat gold, attached to a laquered metal base, and polished. He estimates each Grammy takes 15 to 20 hours to produce. (Billings also crafted the 48 “stunt Grammys” which are reused for the live ceremonies; the winners get their actual Grammys delivered to them, fully engraved, after the show.)
10. At 14 years old, LeAnn Rimes was the youngest person to ever receive a Grammy. George Burns was the oldest, winning one at the age of 94.
11. Brian McKnight holds the record for being the most nominated artist to never actually win a Grammy. Between 1994 and 2005, McKnight was nominated a whopping 16 times, only to lose every time.
12. The first live Grammy Awards telecast was held in 1971.
13. The Grammys is the second-most-watched awards show, after the Oscars.
14. The Flaming Lips bagged the award for the longest-titled Grammy win in 2007 for ‘The Wizard Turns On…The Giant Silver Flashlight And Puts On His Werewolf Moccasins’ (Best Rock Instrumental Performance).
15. In 1989, the Fresh Prince (Will Smith) and DJ Jazzy Jeff won the first Grammy for a Rap Performance.
16. Robin Williams might be a comedian but he’s won four Grammys. He’s also responsible for one of the only decent jokes told at the ceremony. In 2003 he put his ear to the trophy and quipped: “Listen … you can actually hear careers ending.”
17. Sinead O’Connor is the only artist to refuse a Grammy. She passed up the honor for Best Alternative Music Performance for her 1990 album, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got.
18. The eligibility period for Grammy submission changes each year.
19. Elmo the Muppet has won three Grammys, including one for 1998’s ‘Elmopalooza!’ (Best Music Album For Children).
20. There are two rounds of voting by the Recording Academy before the actual nominations.
21. Sinead O’Connor is the only artist to refuse a Grammy. Her album, “I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got” won for Best Alternative Musical Performance in 1991 (the category’s debut year), but she boycotted the ceremony entirely. In a letter to the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, O’Connor explained that she was protesting the ceremony’s commercialism.
22. A week after their infamous “wardrobe malfunction” at Super Bowl XXXVIII, Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson were invited to appear at the 46th annual Grammy Awards, but only only under the provision that they apologize for the incident. Jackson, who wasn’t nominated for any awards that night, declined. But Timberlake, who was nominated in three categories (and would win in two), attended the ceremony and made his apology while accepting his award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. “Listen, I know it’s best a rough week on everybody,” he said. “What occurred was unintentional, completely regrettable, and I apologize if you guys were offended.”
23. The 20,000-plus members of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) vote on the Grammy nominees. The Academy includes both musicians and industry professionals.
24. The first Grammy Awards (known at the time as the Gramophone Awards) were held in 1959, yet the ceremony didn’t air live on television until 1971. ABC eventually agreed to air a live telecast on the condition that executive producer Pierre Cossette obtain Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra or Andy Williams to act as host — but Cossette didn’t even bother asking the first two choices. “I went hot and heavy after Andy Williams because I figured that Dean wouldn’t do it and neither would Sinatra,” he told Billboard in 2008.
25. Despite picking up several nominations, Fleetwood Mac have only ever won one Grammy Award, in 1978 for ‘Rumours’. Guitarist Lindsey Buckingham turned up to the ceremony zonked on Quaaludes, whisky and pot… and threw up before they could collect their award.
26. Jay-Z and Beyoncé are tied in their Grammy wins, each having won 17 trophies.
27. Worst ever speech at the Grammys? In 1998, rapper Ol’ Dirty Bastard was pissed off when Wu Tang Clan lost out to Puff Daddy in the Best Hip-Hop Album category. “Wu Tang is for the children!” he insisted, inaccurately. In fairness, he was probably on drugs.
28. With a total of 21 Grammys won, Kanye West has more Grammys than the Beatles, Barbra Streisand and James Taylor combined.
29. 50 Cent strolled across the stage during Evanescence’s 2004 acceptance speech for Best New Artist in protest at rap not being recognised. Quite a lame protest, in hindsight.
30. Stevie Wonder holds the record for most Grammys won by a solo artist, with 28 Grammys and a Lifetime Achievement award.
31. Most awkward Grammy moment? In 1976, crooner Andy Williams was hosting the show. When a live satellite link-up with Stevie Wonder went wrong he said, “Stevie, can you see us now?” Williams was never invited back to host again.
32. Yoko Ono (and her son Sean Lennon) received a standing ovation in 1982 when she arrived to receive a Grammy for ‘Double Fantasy’, the album she made with John Lennon shortly before his death.
33. Will Smith won the first ever Best Rap Performance award in 1989, for DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince’s ‘Parents Just Don’t Understand’.
34. Michael Jackson was honoured posthumously at the Grammys in 2010. The award was accepted by his children, which was a sweet gesture and naturally everyone was far too polite to mention that neither child looked remotely like him.
35. Norah Jones is one of three artists to have won Best New Artist and Record Of The Year in the same year. Sheryl Crow and Christopher Cross were the other two.
36. Elvis never won a Grammy in a top category, but he did win in the Gospel music category in 1971.
37. Perhaps the greatest Grammy performance was Michael Jackson’s 1988 rendition of ‘Man In The Mirror’. It lost out to Bobby McFerrin’s ‘Don’y Worry, Be Happy’, a tune that George Bush Sr tried to appropriate for his campaign.
38. U2 have won the most Grammy Awards (22 to date).
39. The ceremony has flipped from West Coast to East Coast over the years (and was even in Chicago at one point). Madison Square Garden hosted the event for one year only.
40. Stevie Wonder holds the record for most Grammys won by a solo artist with 28, plus a Lifetime Achievement award.
41. Led Zeppelin have only won one Grammy – the Lifetime Achievement award in 2005, 25 years after they split.
42. The joint-record for most nominations in one year is held by Michael Jackson (12 in 1983) and, Babyface (12 times in 1992). Babyface never really became a household name in the UK, but he wrote or produced pretty much every massive R&B song of that era. Plus, he had awesome hair.