They might be the most prestigious awards in the industry, but just like their Hollywood cousin, Oscar, the Grammy Awards too have had a penchant for not awarding some notables. Remember how Charlie Chaplin never won an Oscar award for his acting? Well, the Grammies have their own “Good Heavens How Come They Never Got a Grammy” hall. And some of the artistes in it are not just famous but downright legendary – so legendary that they did not need a Grammy to prove it. These ten, in particular, did everything in the world of popular music. Except win a Grammy. No pressure.
(The list is in alphabetical order. Of course, Morrissey would object!)
Perhaps the most innovative and unpredictable pop artiste of the modern era, Bjork has received a lot of critical acclaim for her work, which is often a mix of the eclectic, electric and eccentric. What she has NOT got, however, is a Grammy. She has fifteen nominations, but no statuette to show. She was in the running this year too with Utopia having been nominated for Best Alternative Music Album, but once again, the award jury thought alternatively.
The picture of the man who made reggae mainstream adorns walls all over the world. He churned out some of the most iconic songs of the sixties and seventies, and for many, he remains synonymous with rhythm suffused with peace. What he never became synonymous with was a Grammy. His name did appear on the nominees list twice, well after his demise, but never made it to the winners’ chart. He was given a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001. They could have given him more in his lifetime, but then, we doubt he was ever worried about it.
They called her the queen of pop. Michael Jackson was inspired by her. Her songs with their blend of pop, balladry and rhythm, blended with her explosive vocals topped charts all over the world. And between 1965 and 1983, she was nominated for twelve Grammy Awards, five times for best rhythm and blues female vocal performance. She won zilch. They did give her a lifetime achievement Grammy in 2012, but hey, it is not the same, is it?
Guns N’ Roses
They came. They saw. They screamed. They scandalised. They also sang. They were a sensation. They broke up. They tried to get back together. They fought. They are coming back. They are not coming back…well, even while the likes of AXL Rose and Slash rocked the world and everything else, they somehow managed to never win a Grammy Award. GNR did get three nominations, and we are still not sure how they did not win for best rock performance in 1992 with Lose Your Illusion I, but then the awards jury moves in a mysterious way, its musical wonders to perform.
One of the greatest guitarists of all time? Definitely. A cult symbol? Totally. A rock star, in the truest sense of the word? You bet. A Grammy winner? Er…Yes, believe it or not, the great Jimi Hendrix never won a Grammy Award. He did get a nomination for his stirring “Star Spangled Banner” in 1970, but amazingly, missed out. He was given a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1992 and inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame, but he was no longer with us. Grammies for him were pretty much what the Oscars were for Chaplin – his absence told you more about the awards than their presence on his list!
Yes, his penchant for flying off the handle and making statements that shocked people would have made him the stuff award speeches have nightmare about, but there is no doubting the impact Morrissey has had on music. Both as a solo artist and as a part of The Smiths. Shockingly, the Grammies have always been impervious to his charm (his lack of it might have contributed to it), and as a result, he has only got one nomination to show for all his endeavours. And he did not win that time either – in 1992, his Your Arsenal was pipped by Tom Waits’ Bone Machine. We still wonder about the speech he would have given if he had won. There’s still time…and hope (or horror, depending on how you view him).
She might have been the “punk poet laureate” and might have been hailed as one of the few who could blend real poetry with real music, but for the Grammy Awards committee, Patti Smith would always remain a contender, rather than a winner. She was not in the running in her punk years in the seventies and eighties, but has been in contention four times since her comeback in the mid-nineties. Many feel she should have got the female rock performance award for Glitter in their Eyes in 2001, but fate willed otherwise.
Oh yes, the group that had the iconic Freddie Mercury at its lead set stages alight and electrified audiences. So much so that even a less than super film based on the man got a bunch of awards. But the group itself never got a Grammy – even Bohemian Rhapsody got it two nominations, but no wins in 1977. Quite remarkably, the band just got five nominations for all the sweat it spilled on stages all over the world. Some of their songs did get into the Grammy Hall of Fame and in 2018, the group was given that most token of all Grammies – for Lifetime Achievement. Freddie would have gone (Radio) Gaga and wanted to break free. Or maybe he would have just frowned!
They were not everyone’s cup of tea. And they were utterly unpredictable. But no one could doubt the quality of the music churned out by this Canadian band. Unless they were voting them for a Grammy. Rush got within a whisker of getting a Grammy on seven occasions, only to be pipped at the post every time. Yes, they lost out to the likes of Bruce Springsteen, The Police and Pink Floyd but that would have been scant consolation for these honest to goodness rockers.
The man, who many people consider to be synonymous with risqué and aggressive rap for more than two decades now, has never won a golden gramophone. It is not as if he has been ignored – the man has got fourteen nominations all the way back from 1994. But even commercial hits like Drop It Like It’s Hot and Still D.R.E. did not get him the coveted award.
Oh…and (n)one more thing
The next time you feel low about not receiving enough recognition for your hard work, spare a thought for The Spice Girls, The Kinks, The Storkes, Talking Heads and The Velvet Underground. For all their hits that crowded the charts and audiences that packed stadiums, they were never even nominated for a Grammy.