On Monday night, the 58th Grammy Awards were handed out. Among the night’s many big winners were Taylor Swift and Bruno Mars, two of the most popular musicians currently working. However, like any awards, the Grammys have a history of overlooking some truly remarkable talent.
Some of the biggest musicians in history went their whole careers and lives without being awarded a single Grammy. While awards aren’t everything, and these artists cultivated remarkable legacies regardless, it’s truly shocking some of the individuals that were snubbed.
Keith Moon was the animalistic drummer for the deafening English rock group, The Who. Along with Roger Daltrey and Peter Townsend, The Who became one of the most critically acclaimed groups of all time. Their hits included “Baba O’Reilly”, “My Generation” and “Pinball Wizard”, and their album Tommy has gone down as one of the best of all time. Despite all that success, the band remained without a Grammy for the majority of their career. Moon died in 1978 at the age of 32 and nearly three decades later, The Who received a Grammy for lifetime achievement.
Lynard Skynard played a large part in the popularizing of “Southern rock” in North America. The band was unabashedly American and found a niche audience which then grew into a bit of a phenomenon. While their sound was not for everyone, there’s no denying the great songs like “Sweet Home Alabama”, “Free Bird”, and “Tuesday’s Gone”. And still, at their peak, the band was never awarded a Grammy. The band’s career was cut short after three of its members died in a plane crash in 1977, including lead singer and founder Ronnie Van Zant. Other interactions of the band have come up since then, but none have found the success of the original group.
Some call him Biggie Smalls, some call him Big Poppa, some just Biggie. Many call him one of the greatest rappers of all time. At an era when rap music was taking off and mixing into the mainstream, Biggie was one of the most influential artists and became the defacto leader of East Coast during their rivalry with West Coast rappers like Tupac Shakur. In his short career, Biggie release two hit records, Ready to Die and Conspiracy, but received no Grammys before he was murdered in 1997.
One of the most celebrated musicians of all time, Janis Joplin still did not manage to win a Grammy before her death at the young age of 27 in 1970. She was posthumously nominated for the award in 1972 and received a lifetime achievement award in 2005. Despite the lack of recognition the Grammy committee, Joplin’s legacy and influence has only strengthened over the years.
Another legend who missed out on music’s biggest honour, Bob Marley is one of the few reggae artists to find genuine success with the public at large. His work with The Wailers as well as his solo work helped him become the legend he is today. His career came to an end when he died of cancer in 1981. He finally received a lifetime achievement Grammy in 2001.
The lead singer of The Doors, Jim Morrison was an eccentric and hard-living rock star. With songs like “The End” and “Light My Fire”, Morrison was guaranteed a place in history, but the Grammy still alluded him until the partying ways caught up to him and he died at 27 in 1971.
Possibly the greatest guitar player who has even lived. Surely, that is enough to earn a Grammy. Alas, Hendrix was underrated in his time, and another unfortunate member of the “27 club”—artist including Morrison and Joplin who died at that young age. Unsurprisingly, the awards tally has climbed since his death and he now holds 5 Grammy awards.
Queen is in the running for most popular band of all time. Certain polls show them as more beloved than even The Beatles. Even still, the band’s leader singer, and its heart and soul, Freddy Mercury never won the big prize. He’ll just have to settle for a legacy as one of the greatest frontmen, greatest singers and greatest performers who have ever lived.
What other great artists were snubbed at the Grammys?