May 4, 1959: 1st Ever Grammy Awards Held. No Rock and Roll!

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From the Series Lil’ History Chips

On May 4, 1959, the first ever Grammy music awards were held, with no category for rock and roll despite the fact that this new type of music had already long taken the country by storm. 

The big winners with 2 Grammys apiece were: Ella Fitzgerald (Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Female and Best Jazz Performance by an Individual, for compilations of a Irving Berlin song and a Duke Ellington song, respectively); Henri Mancini (Best Arrangement and Album of the Year, both for The Music from Peter Gunn); Ross Bagdasarian, Sr., better known by his stage persona of David Seville, (Best Comedy Performance and Best Recording for Children, both for “The Chipmunk Song”); and Domenico Modugno (Song of the Year and Record of the Year for “Volare“).

The only award in the Best Country and Western Performance category went to The Kingston Trio for their hit “Tom Dooley.”  Other major categories included Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Male, which was won by Perry Como for “Catch a Falling Star,”  and Best Performance by a Vocal Group or Chorus, which was won by Keely Smith and Louis Prima for “That Old Black Magic.”

The winners who most closely approached rock and roll were The Champs with “Tequila” for which they received the Grammy award for Best R&B Performance. 

In all, only 22 Grammys were awarded that first year, far fewer than the 83 categories recognized in 2015.

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About Author

Major Dan

Major Dan is a retired veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He served during the Cold War and has traveled to many countries around the world. Prior to his military service, he graduated from Cleveland State University, having majored in sociology. Following his military service, he worked as a police officer eventually earning the rank of captain prior to his retirement.