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Many most-deserving left at altar

Pop quiz! Question: What do these Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame bands have in common: The Kinks, Beach Boys, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Sly & the Family Stone, Queen, the Everly Brothers and The Doors?

Answer: None has ever won a Grammy Award.

You know, the Grammys. The ones what recognize "outstanding achievements in the recording industry."

There are many other quintessential bands and individuals who also have never earned a trophy. You could also put Led Zeppelin (2005) and The Who (2011) on that list if you don't count their "lifetime achievement" awards.


In the ever-subjective world of music, it still seems foolish that some of the greatest bands over the last 50 years has never earned a gold statuette. In fact, finding folly with past winners is like shooting fish in a barrel. Clearly, many fuddy-duddy Grammy voters had no idea how to treat this "new" rock 'n' roll phenomenon.


  • In 1965, the bossa nova hit "The Girl From Ipanema" was the winner for best song, beating out, among others, "I Want To Hold Your Hand" (The Beatles may have lost in this category, but you'll be glad to know the "Chipmunks Sing The Beatles" album won a best engineering award at the same show)
  • Two years later, the novelty song "Winchester Cathedral" earned top rock song over "Good Vibrations," "Eleanor Rigby," and "Monday, Monday"
  • The band A Taste of Honey, whose sole contribution to music apparently was the disco hit "Boogie Oogie Oogie" was named top new artist in 1979, defeating The Cars and Elvis Costello (the new artist category is littered with bands that crashed and burned — Christopher Cross, anyone?)
  • Flute-rockers Jethro Tull earned the first-ever best hard rock/metal performance Grammy, beating out, among others, Metallica.
  • The Baha Men ("Who Let The Dogs Out") and, perhaps most embarrassingly of all, Milli Vanilli, have each won Grammy Awards. You might remember Milli Vanilli had to give back its 1990 best new artist award because, well, they really didn't sing on their album.

Sure, alt-rock heroes Talking Heads have won a Grammy — FOR BEST ALBUM PACKAGING — while does it seem right that Sting has won 16 Grammys, the Black Eyed Peas have won six while Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley have won zero?

So where are we now?

To be honest, the Grammy folks have, over the years, made a real effort to become more relevant, ignoring popularity and record sales in hopes of reaching across the critical aisle. This year's lineup include six acts tied for the most nominations with six each, including R&B newcomer sensation Frank Ocean, The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, Kanye West, Jay-Z, fun. and Mumford & Sons. Not bad. And giving nominations to lesser-known acts such as Muse and Lumineers is a step in the right direction.

But, hey, we're not just here to pat the Grammy folks on the back. There are still plenty of nits to pick, such as:

  • In the best album category, we have four white rockers and Ocean. Not one female act. Nada. Zip. You're telling me that ultra-strong efforts from Fiona Apple, Regina Spektor, Florence + the Machine, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj or Kelly Clarkson don't qualify? (True, many of the just named are up in "minor" album categories, but, c'mon, why not one for the biggest one of them all?)
  • In the new artist category (or as Colin Hay of "Men At Work" once called, "the kiss of death award"), it's hard to figure why budding superstar Ed Sheeran, Lana Del Rey, Gotye, or Canadian popster Carly Ray Jepsen are not on the list.
  • Looking for younger, mega-selling acts that many critics liked? Well, no nominations for Justin Bieber (whose manager went on a Twitter rant for the snub) and British sensations One Direction. And Jepsen's mega-smash "Call Me Maybe" is up for top song, but not top record.
  • Other big-name performers whose superb 2012 albums were not nominated include Leonard Cohen ("Old Ideas"), Bob Dylan ("Tempest"), Rihanna ("Unapologetic"), Neil Young and Crazy Horse ("Psychedelic Pill"), Cat Power ("Sun"), Taylor Swift ("Red") and Soundgarden ("King Animal"). Like always, there are many others.

I'm sure that since the Grammys now cover a staggering 81 categories means more and more acts aren't getting overlooked. At least in theory.

Still it's hard to say just what winning a Grammy means. While critical/commercial successes such as Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin have all won more than a dozen Grammys, I'm not sure Ray Davies or Mike Love are thinking their lives aren't complete without a win. And what does U2 think of having won 22 awards? Or that relative newcomers the Foo Fighters already have 11? Or what should we make of flash-in-the-pan soft-rockers Toto having won six Grammys, just one fewer than The Beatles? The Rolling Stones put out four of the best rock albums of all time from 1968 to 1972. Their only win? 1995's "Voodoo Lounge." The head spins.

Winners, all 81 of them, are determined by voting among members of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Just remember, you academy members — we will be watching each and every result with a critical eye.