In 1966, the Grammy Awards were very young. On March, 15, 1966, over 800 music artists, celebrities and members of the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences filled the International Ballroom of the Beverly Hills Hilton Hotel to see who would be honored at only the eighth annual Grammy Awards presentation. Unlike today's over-glorified live TV show ceremonies, the 1966 awards were presented mainly in Hollywood, but separate presentation ceremonies were simultaneously also held in New York, Nashville and Chicago!
In New York, 900 attended the event that featured Barry Sadler singing the then-current #1 song in the land, "Ballad of the Green Berets." In Nashville, Grammy winners Roger Miller and the Statler Brothers entertained. In Chicago, the celebration surrounded 10 local winners out of 22 nominations, most importantly being Roger Miller's Smash Records best C&W single ("King of the Road") and LP ("Return of Roger Miller") awards and Ramsey Lewis' Best Instrumental Jazz Performance ("The In Crowd").
Yet, the "main event" was the Hollywood awards dinner. The west coast-based A&M Records won 4 Grammies (Herb Alpert & Tijuana Brass' "A Taste of Honey") and Burbank-based Warner Brothers took seven including Frank Sinatra's single "It Was a Very Good Year" and LP "September of My Years" as well as Bill Cosby's comedy award for his LP "Why Is There Air?" and Petula Clark's single "I Know a Place".
Unlike today's one award ceremony simulcast to parties all over the country, there was no live TV show for the 1966 awards. Instead, a TV special produced with the academy's assistance titled "The Best on Record" was aired on May 16 featuring many Grammy winners and scenes filmed at the ceremonies. Also, unlike today's awards, rock 'n roll music was hard pressed to get recognition. Often, Top 40 music was not even among winners. In 1965, the newest category "Best Rock & Roll Performance" was changed to three new categories: "Best Contemporary (R&R) Female Vocal Performance," "Best Contemporary (R&R) Male Vocal Performance" and Best Contemporary (R&R) Group Performance Instrumental or Vocal."
The first solo awards went to the aforementioned Pet Clark and Roger Miller hits. The best chance for a rock group winning a Grammy was the last award for groups. Nominees were "Help!" (Beatles), "Mrs. Brown" (Herman's Hermits), "Flowers on the Wall" (Statler Brothers), "Stop in the Name of Love" (Supremes) and "Wooly Bully" (Sam the Sham & the Pharoahs)! Sam was there and ready to take the hardware. The academy had a chance to advance towards present day standards, but chose the COUNTRY Statler Brothers' hit as the winner! Can you believe it? They could not win the country single awards because "The Road" was just too big! "King of the Road" (Roger Miller) won five Grammies and answer record "Queen of the House" won Jody Miller a Grammy for best female country single! SO, the Statler Brothers got next best -- the rock category! What a joke!!
The attached photos show what it was like. You see the Statlers win their "Rock & Roll" award, you see the New York ceremonies, Sam the Sham, Herb Alpert, Sonny & Cher (up for "Best New Artists" won by Tom Jones) with Jackie DeShannon (up for "What the World needs Now is Love" vs. Pet Clark's winner) . Besides the photos, here's what happened. It was a strictly formal affair (as today), but Sonny & Cher wore their bell bottoms and furry jackets! The nominees and stars arrived around 7 PM and mingled. At the Hollywood event, guests included most of the above nominees, Lorne Greene, Louis Armstrong, Phyllis Diller, Mort Sahl, Jerry Naylor, Joanie Sommers, Connie Stevens, John Gary, Anita Kerr, Lainie Kazan, the King Sisters, the Paris Sisters, Tommy Leonetti, and Sandy Nelson.
Next was a prime rib dinner served by red-jacketed waiters. At 10 PM (!!!!), the program began as master of ceremonies, Jerry Lewis, leaped onstage and announced "I'm proud to be Gary's dad!" He did a short monologue and the first presenters were Jackie DeShannon and Johnny Mercer. The big shock was apparently that the Beatles, up for 9 awards, won none. Sonny & Cher apparently looked shocked when they lost the "Best New Artist" award to Tom Jones. Louis Armstrong presented Herb Alpert with one of his 4 Grammies on the night. None of the Sinatras were there for Sr.'s awards. James Brown, Jody Miller and Pet Clark picked up their awards. The awards event ended long after midnight.
Did 1967 change things for the '66 Grammy awards? Not really. Jimmie Rodgers performed and Sinatra again won "Record of the Year" (Strangers in the Night") and "Album of the Year" ("A Man & His Music"). Ray Conniff's "Somewhere my Love" was a winner and Bill Cosby won for "Wonderfulness!." Herbie Alpert was winning with "What Now my Love." Half of the Beatles won a Grammy! McCartney and Lennon won for writing the "Song of the Year": "Michelle." The three "Rock and Roll Awards" were changed again and skewed away from actual "Rock & Roll." The Male and Female Contemporary award were combined into one category and won by 1/4 of the Beatles: Paul McCartney for his solo of "Eleanor Rigby" which was actually listed as a group recording on the record. What gives there?? The best Contemporary Group Performance went to the Mamas & Papas for "Monday Monday", but the new third R&R award, " Best Contemporary (R&R) Recording" went to.............can you believe this after hearing the NAME of the award??.............."Winchester Cathedral" (New Vaudeville Band)!!!
-- Clark Besch
Yeah, the Grammy Voters RARELY got it right in the early years ... things seem to have still been controlled by the "old guard" back then ... and deserving artists like The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Byrds, The Rolling Stones and many others were routinely ignored and went unrecognized for their talents.
The VERY first piece we EVER posted on the (then) brand new Forgotten Hits Web Page addressed The Beatles' previous Grammy Awards ... and we kept it up there for posterity's sake. In fact, you can still find it posted right here:
Click here: Forgotten Hits: Is The Music of The Beatles Still Relevant?
(Judging by the sales this week of their remastered catalog, I'd have to say that the music of The Beatles just may be more popular than EVER!!!) lol
Best "ROCK" Performance of 1965?!?!?
Can you believe that, according to The Grammy Awards, this Statler Brothers track rocked better than The Rolling Stones' #1 Hits "Satisfaction" and "Get Off Of My Cloud", The Beatles' #1 Hits "Help!" and "Ticket To Ride", and OTHER classic rock tracks like "Help Me, Rhonda" and "California Girls" by The Beach Boys, "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Turn, Turn, Turn" by The Byrds, "Wooly Bully" by Sam The Sham and the Pharaohs, "Catch Us If You Can" by The Dave Clark Five and "Let's Hang On" by The Four Seasons ... ALL bonafide Top Five Hits that year??? Unreal!!!
(Not a BAD song ... but Rock and Roll?!?!? I don't think so!)