Top 10 Legendary Musicians Who Never Won a Grammy

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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

Image result for 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

Image result for 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

Image result for 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.

6. Queen

Image result for queen band

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

Image result for 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

Image result for 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

Image result for 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

Image result for 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.


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80 Comments

  1. People!!! Britney Spears? yes what's wrong with her? where was Bob Marley at 27 years old? and where was Queen at 27 years old? at this age she's the Queen of Pop. Britney Spears shld have won 10 grammys by now! She is a great artist! what lil wayne is better? or kanye west? or justin timberlake(6 grammys)? why not talk abt these people? think b4 u write such articles….

    • Britney Spears has no talent, just electronic voice manipulators. And once Lil Wayne and Kayne stop not only being d-bags and start talking about life more than "I'm gonna **** you now" they'll start winning.

    • And Duane Allman dedicated his short life to, and succeeded in becoming one of the greatest slide guitarists of all time. Do you know what that means? It means you're a god damn idiot. Age means nothing and Britney is an exposure queen. They expose her to idiots who don't know, appreciate, or understand music outside of having something to hum all day in their head. In case you don't understand how exposure works it means the more people that see her, the more people likely to buy her crapass albums. So, considerings to get on radio you need the backing of an Independent Producer (they can only produce like 10 people cause they need their songs played 2000+x daily on all top 40 stations under their banner. Oh, and by the way, NO ONE can get on the radio without making the cookie cutter songs IP's like clear channel want) the labels that produce artists have to spend millions on these people to get radio play so that they, the record companies, aren't directly paying the people at the stations which would violate payola laws. In the interest of making copious amounts of monies or even in some cases just to stay afloat to support more substantial artists, labels bring on Britneys who are basically actors/actresses who can dance and act ridiculous enough to make enough racket on TV to sell their album. See how this works? She's a song and dance routine without talent. She's a singer/musician right? Then why does she dance to the point she can't sing on stage??? Sounds like music is waaaay important to her; i mean to the point she would rather shake her ass for millions of people instead of express herself with powerful, thoughtful, heartfelt. Besides, she doesn't write her own music, they have formula's for this shit. They write and over-produce it for her, she sings, then they edited, then she dances while it's played on a loudspeaker and all over the radio 24/7 so that she gets all the exposure necessary to sell to you, the idiot ass consumer (re-read your non-nonsensical babbling post again) that thinks the Grammy's are honestly an awards show and not a moneymaking scheme. You're not musically versed so don't sit on here and pretend like you are.

      • Man i wish I could talk to you Josh. I’m writing a research essay for a class right now based on influences of pop culture on music. You’re dead on about the Grammy’s being a money making scheme. My whole paper is going to be based on money and image ruining music. However i’m having trouble articulating it. Can’t think of a more credible way to say that music like Brittney’s is overproduced garbage that is popular based on money and a consumerism driven pop culture. Been a long time since you posted this but oh well, shot in the dark.

    • The music Brittney writes is terrible! Have you listened to her at all? Also Jim Morrison of the doors achieved all of his AMAZING music BEFORE HE WAS 27!! he died when he was 27 and so was Jimi frigging Hendrix he also accomplished all of his amazing music befor and while he was 27 intact almost all of these bands did. but all of these people who are on this list deserve hundreds of Grammys not the horrible music and their artists you just mentioned. And I think I would know if Brittany spears or kanye or lil Wayne deserved a Grammy… Which they don't cuz I'm 16 and have listened to their music… All Brittany has accomplished is being known as a skank and a flipping psycho. Also who played at the Super Bowl this year not brittany and who is selling out concert venues right now let's see Robert plant not Brittany spears… In fact you're the one who should think about posting before thinking about how amazing all of these people were and how almost all of them accomplished something amazing BEFORE they were 27

        • ‘Derek says:
          December 17, 2010 at 12:17 am
          Britney has a good voice and some of the best pop songs of all time. Stay jealous.’

          haha… dude you make me VERY F**KING WORRIED about the future of music!

        • Britney requires autotune to sound good. There is a reason she does not sing live. Her songs may have been catchy, but it had nothing to do with her.

    • Britney Spears already has a grammy! Toxic won Best Dance Recording in 2005. Calm down, people.

    • Where was Queen at 27 years old? Let’s see. By their age of 27 all four had received their college degrees and Freddie Mercury was busy writing the lyrics & the music for BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY plus many other classics. Hello?!?!?!?! Learn some rock history please. Freddie’s voice alone could run circles around Britney. She is not even fit to be the dirt under Freddie’s fingernails.

      • Freddie Mercury and Queen were and are STILL the gods of rock!! They could vomit better songs and music than any of today’s pop losers!! If Freddie were still alive who knows what the face of rock and roll would be today! Long live QUEEN!

    • You can’t be serious. Get over your emotional crap and get real. Where was Bob Marley at 27 and Queen at 27???? Are you for real. Your little PUPPET QUEEN has no talent whatsoever. Can’t sing live to safe her life has no contribution to make to society. No lyrics of any sense. You are talking clearly out of your a..hole.

    • Jimi Hendrix died at 27 and so did Jim Morrison. Bob Marley was cutting records that you’ve never heard of, in Africa at that age.

  2. Yeah, but those people are relatively new artists.

    FYI, Britney sings songs that people have wrote for her.

    Queen of Pop? Queen of Lip-Synching, perhaps?

    Or maybe, Queen of Rubbish dancing?

    Think before you write such comments…

  3. Jill...NOT Jillian on

    Countess, some of who you mentioned are good artists, yes…but if you read the title of the list, it says "top 10 legendary musicians who never won a grammy" and not to mention, britbrit could not even hold a candle to freddie, buddy or led zep.

    Now, go listen to some classic rock!

  4. Classic Rock had a tough time at the Grammys because much of the sound is too strong for the delicate sensibilities of the Academy…and the great rockers weren't likely to self-promote through sycophantic pandering to the voters. Heck, that's one of the things that made them so great! At any rate, this is a great list and, judging by some of the drivel earning awards today, may not need to be updated for decades! Good job!

  5. Random Soliloquy on

    Excellent list.

    I sort of like that my favorite musicians are Grammy-less. It reaffirms my belief that the Academy is ridiculously snobbish as well as deaf and dumb.

    BTW, Britney still has plenty of time to put on a decent top and write a real song. Old sex doesn't sex nearly as well as young sex, so if she's interested in a Madonna-esque career, she is going to have to scrounge up some talent.

  6. i tihnk led zeppelin is too low on this list, also this list convinced me the grammys are stupid so i dont care about them so i dont care who wins or doesnt win so i dont care about about this list. like my game? drop me a line

    [email protected]

  7. britney spears? can you tell me how many songs britney has written in her life? can you tell me what instrument britney plays? give me a break, britney has no talent, she sings songs other people write for her. you are a joke of a human being

    • hey,think before you post! you don't know who britney is! She wrote these songs:

      Freakshow

      Ooh Ooh Baby

      Lonely

      Anticipating

      Cinderella

      Let Me Be

      That's Where You Take Me

      Before the Goodbye

      Everytime

      Me Against the Music

      Showdown

      Early Mornin'

      Touch Of My Hand

      The Hook Up

      Shadow

      Brave New Girl

      Don't Hang Up

      Dear Diary

      And Then We Kiss

      Over to You Now

      Someday I will understand

      Mona Lisa

      Let Go

      Sippin' On

      Little Me

      Baby Boy

      Rebellion

      And Britney Can play the PIANO..

      Don't underestimate Britney!She'll never be a music icon if she don't know how to play a single instrument!

      • wow looks like your that LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE!!! girl

        anyways this list is awesome all these artist are gods!

      • ‘She’ll never be a music icon if she don’t know how to play a single instrument!’

        i don’t believe i’ve ever heard a 6th, 7th, Augmented, Diminished etc Chord in any of these songs.
        all majors and minors. and 3 or 4 chords at that. So Yes, she may play the piano, but that’s like calling someone a artist when they paint with a pallet of 3 colours.
        to quote Hicks – Brittany and all those cut from the same cloth ‘Are demons, sent here to lower the standard!’

  8. Queen should be at the top!!!! I can't believe they have never won a grammy!!! We should protest cos all these musicians are amazing!!!

  9. Musically Inclined on

    At 27, most of the musicians on on this list, and that you asked about, countless, were busy being legendary musicians in America and England and such. Please, stfu.

  10. I'm doubting most of you can't recognize a troll when it's bloody making the first comment!

    Great list by the way.

  11. eh countess,

    you realise that she may be the one of the worst singers of this generation.

    She uses software which enhances peoples voices, this is usually used in movies and such when an actor can't sing but is perfect for the part.

    if you don't believe me look it up on youtube when the software wouldn't work from her.

    I'm astonished Queen and The who have never won a grammy!

  12. I second RUSH. I am astounded by the fact that The Who wasn't recognized by the recording academy. Led Zeppelin should be lower on the list, but not before The Who. …Maybe. Hell, they're both great.

  13. I think the reason why some bands did not won a grammy coz' druing that time, the music industry were dominated by rock and roll bands so the competition was very tough.

  14. "britney spears? can you tell me how many songs britney has written in her life? can you tell me what instrument britney plays? give me a break, britney has no talent, she sings songs other people write for her. you are a joke of a human being"

    She has written A LOT of her songs on her studio albums and she's written tons of unreleased songs. So if anyone here is a joke it's you.

    Elvis didn't write his material too and Jimi Hendrix has a CRAPPY voice, but they are a joke too right? You people know nothing about music. Britney isn't a singer, she is a performer, an entertainer and she deserved the last bit of success she will get

    • Just because Britney Spears writes some of her own songs doesn't make her good. Having a good career does not make her talented. She's a product of her label and her dying sex appeal. That's it. She's overstayed her welcome, only survived by blind, ignorant young girls who still think she's anything they'd WANT to be, perverts who want her in bed, and the media circus that she creates. Take those things away and what do you have?

      A cheap stripper who does karaoke.

  15. This is a fantastic list, but when these artist were popular there was a lot of racism in the country, not only that alot of the voters of the Academy were stuffed shirt conservatives and do you really think they would have voted for acts that played songs that had drug references, sexual innuendo and the like.

  16. Regarding the first 5 or 6 replies.
    Noone is saying that Britney is as good as these legendary artists, but I don’t see anything wrong in the fact that she won in the Best Dance Recording category.
    Also, she DOES write some of her songs. She wrote and co-wrote about 40 songs, not bad considering that she is mainly an entertainer and not a real musician. And she writes her songs on piano, so yes, she can play an instrument.

  17. Are you serious? The Who above arguably the most influential artist this world has ever seen. Bob Marley is far and away number one on this list. The Who is a terrific band, but take a back seat to everybody on this list except maybe the Grateful Dead. You've got the right artists, just wrong order.

    My top 10:

    1. Bob Marley

    2. Diana Ross

    3. Jimi Hendrix

    4. Led Zeppelin

    5. Buddy Holly

    6. Lynyrd Skynyrd

    7. The Doors

    8. Queen

    9. The Who

    10. Grateful Dead

    • The Who are the most influential on that list. Know your music??? I mean this is a no-brainer. If not for the Who are their undeniable talent, music could have a different face today.

      • what about led zeppelin? their track ‘stairway to heaven’ is among the most popular and influential works in rock music, and also considering other influecing songs they produced. im not saying The Who sucks, they are good. but Led Zeppelin should be the most influential guys on that list. they are one of the most bootlegged artists in the history of rock music

        • lol, Led Zeppelin were also a product of The Who. Moon and the Ox formed the band and decided to stay with the Who. Moon named the Band Led Zeppelin and The Ox designed their first album cover. Look it up. But you are talking about a band that had a few songs that made it big. and my point was that Rock N Rock was banned in the early sixties. Even the Who, but The Who had so much talent Rock N Rock was accepted. But it was also the personality of The Who. They were intelligent, Funny, Charming as well. Roger Daltrey was really the first Sex Symbol in Rock as well.

      • Hendrix and Zeppelin are just as influential as The Who, and Buddy Holly is the most influential on the list. Did The Who influence The Beatles and The Rolling Stones? Didn’t think so.

        • Hendrix copied Pete Townsend dude. Keith Richards even said it. It was so hard NOT to copy The Who, that the Stones started making that funky music Disco/Rock Tech… These are facts. After many bands heard the Who, they were obviously the most talented rock band ever. It was hard not to copy their style. But this came from The Who’s editor. The Who’s editor even said The Who were miles ahead in every phase. synthesizer? Townsend was the only person that could program it. Pete Townsend has always been known to be this musical genies. The other bands were good, but not genius.

    • Look people, the Who are the greatest Rock Band ever. This was already put to a test in 1979. All the Radio Stations had the voting for the top Rock Band ever. The Beatles, the Stones Led Zeppelin were leading the polls for a while, and then The Who Fans got fed up and started voting. The Who totally destroyed the rest. The only reason the other bands were leading was because Who fans (which is the majority) know The Who put every other Rock Band to shame. They do not have to vote for this, but they finally did. The Who were voted the Top Rock Band of the 70s and the only band to come close since then is U2. But still The Who PUT EVERYONE TO SHAME. and yes U2 was inspired the most by The Who. Bono even said it. So all this other talk about the other, the Rolling Stones? Townsend use to tune Keith Richards Guitar for crying out loud! Pete Townsend plays 22 insturments. You can not compare the rest. The Who absolutely put everyone to shame and the entire Rock & Roll industry is built around Pete Townsend’s work

  18. The doors should be higher up. And they have won a Grammy. Not when Jim was still alive but they have won one in the last couple of years.

  19. …..britney spears is an entertainer. As an artist, she's a nobody. Her songs that she wrote herself never achieved anything. She should be respected as a dancer but as a singer, she lacks true talent. In today's society, u get some catchy beat get britney spears to sing it, autotune that shit, strip her so that she is only wearing a bikini, make her shake her booty, photoshop her, and there u go, u have a britney single that will win some useless awards, get over millions of hits, get a crap load of imbecile fans fawning over her, and it will hit #1 on itunes and billboards. Britney cannot sing and she even admitted herself one time that she would much rather have a voice of artists like Christina, Kelly, or Alicia.

    • Really, all of you Britney haters are exhaustively ignorant. The girl has some assemblance of a singing voice other wise she would not have a music career. I have to constantly remind people that Britney had not even dabbled in the world of auto tune until her fourth album and by then she already was named the largest debut by both a teenage and an American artist selling well over thirty some odd million albums. Please for the love of god do not say its all her sex appeal because you cannot see sex appeal through your speakers. When Britney wishes that she had a voice like Christina she, like some many other people, are tricked into thinking that just because you can use your voice to jump through hoops you are in the least bit musical useful. Thankfully oversouling have been exposed and everyone agrees its tacky and down right awful.

      • Oh really? Hmm, that explains why I only bought the first TWO of her albums, The first two albums she actually sang. I can’t stand AutoTune. It makes me sick to my stomach and is obviously used by artists that are lazy or otherwise can’t sing anymore. I’d rather listen to the Dixie Chicks than Britney’s autotune whoring. And I don’t even like country, or so I thought.

        Britney is heavily pitch corrected. That means, anyone can be a singer in today’s market, which CHEAPENS the art form, you dweeb. And the industry wonders why they have a problem selling record units in the large amounts they used to be able to

        • Not only are you grossly late to the party (my comment was made two years ago) but, you haven’t the intelligence to articulate a response without resorting to name calling. You clearly don’t have the authority to comment on the subject when you completely misinterpret the current music landscape. We are in an era, a digital era, where people can download an album for free, however illegally. You can purchase single tracks from an album without purchasing the entire effort via iTunes, Amazon etc. Please save yourself the embarrassment and accept your loss in this battle.
          Sincerely,
          Dweeb

    • THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT I WAS THINKING.

      Chuck Schuldiner and Mikael Akerfeldt are the gods of music, regardless of genre.

      As for this list, Queen should have gotten second place, The Who deserves top, and Led Zeppelin's music should be burned. Not one song they wrote wasn't stolen from somebody else. For this reason, not one of their songs can POSSIBLY deserve a grammy, and so they don't deserve one either. It's like Metallica getting a grammy, it's just sick. Death and Opeth need Grammys.

  20. Really, what is wrong with the grammys? Buddy Holly, Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Diana Ross..EVERYONE ON THE LIST SHOULD HAVE WON A GRAMMY!!!

    • But it’s so much better that they didn’t, as it shows that the Grammy is just a joke. Seriously, who listens to an artist/band BECAUSE they won a Grammy? Oh, and The Who FTW. To anyone who disagrees with them, being on the list, go listen to ’em on Youtube. Entwhistle and Moon, especially, were masters of their instruments, and you’ll run into few drummers and bassists that don’t cite them as major inspirations.

    • Well Diana Ross should be taken off the list now, cause she was awarded a Lifetime Grammy in Feb 2012, the best Grammy you can get.

  21. Guitar teacher on

    LOL who would mention Brittney along with Queen, Led Zeppelin, and the others on the list?!?

  22. Not a fan of Britney but to say that Toxic isn’t a good song and wasn’t worthy of Best Dance Recording that year is nuts. You can’t say you like or respect good music by completely dismissing that song.

    Really the reason why these artists listed don’t have any grammys have nothing to do with Britney, Christina or Beyonce, whatever. They have about 39390290 (okay I’m exaggerating a bit) more categories now that cover all kinds of genres of music which wasn’t true back in the day.

  23. lol at people who think Britney isn’t a legand. She has sold over 100 million records, has countless number 1 singles around the world, and one of the best entertainers of all time.