The Grammys, much like the Oscars, have lost some of its luster and credibility in recent years with such pop phenoms such as Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera taking home Grammys. But even more indefensible is the rock and roll legends that haven’t won a Grammy. Some of the most famous and influential musicians in music history have never won a Grammy and here are the top 10 on the list. Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix won Lifetime Grammy Achievement Awards after their deaths, but we won’t count those since they were given out based on a career and not a year, so to speak.
10. Buddy Holly
Although his success lasted only a year and a half before his death in an airplane crash, Holly is described by critic Bruce Eder as “the single most influential creative force in early rock and roll.” His works and innovations were copied by his contemporaries and later musicians, notably The Beatles, The Beach Boys and The Rolling Stones, and exerted a profound influence on popular music. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked Holly #13 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. Buddy Holly died in 1959, the year of the first Grammy Awards ceremony and was never eligible for a Grammy during his lifetime.
9. The Doors
The Doors’ music was a fusion of psychedelic rock, hard rock, blues-rock, and acid rock. They were considered a controversial band, due mostly to Morrison’s cryptic lyrics and unpredictable stage persona. After Morrison’s death on July 3, 1971, the remaining members continued as a threesome until disbanding in 1973. Despite a career that barely totaled eight years, The Doors still enjoy a huge cult following as well as status in the mainstream music industry as being hugely influential and original. According to the RIAA, they have sold over 32 million albums in the US alone. The Doors went winless by the Grammys for during their entire eight years together.
8. Lynyrd Skynyrd
The band became prominent in the Southern United States in 1973, and rose to worldwide recognition before several members, including lead vocalist and primary songwriter Ronnie Van Zant, died in a plane crash in 1977. The band reformed in 1987 for a reunion tour with Ronnie’s younger brother, Johnny Van Zant as the frontman, and continues to record music today. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 13, 2006. The band now has a total of 7 deceased members. A Grammy still eludes this iconic and pioneering Southern rock band.
7. Jimi Hendrix
Hendrix synthesized many styles in creating his musical voice and his guitar style was unique, later to be abundantly imitated by others. Despite his hectic touring schedule and notorious perfectionism, he was a prolific recording artist and left behind more than 300 unreleased recordings. With all of his popularity and musical influence he never won a Grammy. In 1992, Hendrix was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
As of 2005, according to The Guinness Book of World Records, Queen albums have spent a total of 1,322 weeks or twenty-seven years on the United Kingdom album charts; more time than any other musical act including The Beatles and Elvis Presley. Also in 2005, with the release of their live album with Paul Rodgers, Queen moved into third place on the list of acts with the most aggregate time spent on the British record charts, but Queen has still never won a Grammy.
5. Grateful Dead
The Grateful Dead’s musical influences varied widely; in concert recordings or on record albums one can hear psychedelic rock, blues, rock and roll, country-western, bluegrass, country-rock, and improvisational jazz. These various influences were distilled into a diverse and psychedelic whole that made the Grateful Dead “the pioneering Godfathers of the jam band world. 30 years of touring though couldn’t garner a Grammy award.
4. Led Zeppelin
With their heavy, guitar-driven sound, Led Zeppelin are regarded as one of the first heavy metal bands. However, the band’s individualistic style draws from many sources and transcends any one genre. The band have sold more than 300 million albums worldwide, including 111.5 million sales in the United States and they have had all of their original studio albums reach the U.S. Billboard Top 10, with six reaching the number one spot. Led Zeppelin are ranked #1 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock. Rolling Stone magazine has described Led Zeppelin as “the heaviest band of all time” and “the biggest band of the ’70s”. But sorry, no Grammy for you.
3. Diana Ross
A twelve-time Grammy and Oscar-nominated singer, record producer and actress, whose musical repertoire spans R&B, soul, pop, disco and jazz. During the 1960s, she helped shape the sound of popular music and the Motown Sound as lead singer of The Supremes before leaving for a solo career in the beginning of 1970. Since the beginning of her career with The Supremes and as a solo artist, Diana Ross has sold more than 100 million records. Apparently not enough to win a Grammy though.
2. Bob Marley
He was the lead singer, songwriter and guitarist for the ska, rocksteady and reggae bands: The Wailers (1964 – 1974) and Bob Marley & the Wailers (1974 – 1981). Marley remains the most widely known and revered performer of reggae music, and is credited for helping spread Jamaican music to the worldwide audience. Although he never won a Grammy in his lifetime, he was recently announced as a 2007 Grammy Hall of Fame inductee.
1. The Who
The primary lineup was guitarist Pete Townshend, vocalist Roger Daltrey, bassist John Entwistle and drummer Keith Moon. They became known for energetic live performances, are one of the most influential rock bands of the 1960s and ’70s, and recognized as one of the greatest rock and roll bands of all time. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, their first year of eligibility. According to the New York Times, The Who have sold 100 million records yet were never recognized by the Recording Academy.