Beatles' 5 Best Years at The Grammys: Battles with Frank Sinatra and A Surprising Peak Point
The Beatles were kind of a big deal, as their countless hits and no. 1 singles can attest to, but their shelf wasn't nearly as full of Grammys as you might think. The group "only" managed to snag nine of the most vaunted awards in music across its entire career (compared to 27 for Allison Krauss). April 13 marks the 50th anniversary of the first Grammy ceremony where the band won a trophy and Music Times is marking the occasion by counting down the five years in which the greatest band in popular music history managed to land a win, going from "fewest wins" to most (ties will be broken by taking the "winning percentage" based on nominations).
So if you're still mad that Beck got the Album of The Year award over Beyoncé, just remind yourself that The Beatles lost Album of The Year to '60s-era Frank Sinatra...twice.
05) The Ninth Annual Grammy Awards (1967)
Recall that rock 'n' roll was hardly a new thing circa 1967. The Beatles themselves were still hopelessly surrounded by Beatlemania, but the band had since moved onto far more experimental and thought-provoking music such as the immortal Rubber Soul. Although that classic wasn't even given a conciliatory nomination, Revolver did get a nod for Album of The Year. Although that record might not live up to the ambition of its predecessor (and fans often lament "Yellow Submarine"), it's tough to deny that the direction and songwriting from Paul McCartney ("Eleanor Rigby") and John Lennon ("Tomorrow Never Knows") was far superior to that of Frank Sinatra (to whom they would lose the award for the second time) and Herb Alpert, rather tired sounding acts by comparison. At least the group took home song of the year for "Michelle," a single from Rubber Soul.
04) The 13th Annual Grammy Awards (1971)
You don't really appreciate something until it's gone. Or at least that's what they tell us. Giving the band one Grammy for its last official album seems like a mistake to many music aficionados, as many consider Let It Be to be a letdown. So it will ease some of their minds to know that the album wasn't actually nominated for Album of The Year, winning Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture instead, as it was used to soundtrack the documentary film of the same title. If this were the Academy Awards, you know quite a few composers would be up in arms if they had to go up against the most popular band in the world for a "score" that had previously been released. The Grammy? Just a bitter pill. This was the sixth Grammy trophy for the band...as many as Adele had won in one night...and some theorize the academy was looking to force The Beatles into at least an appearance together. McCartney was the only one accepting the trophy, so the audience had to deal with tension between Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel instead.
03) The 10th Annual Grammy Awards (1968)
Don't you worry...eventually even the recording academy was bound to lose interest in the dated style of Frank Sinatra and officially acknowledge a Beatles album as among the best. And what album better than Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band? After all, even now it's ranked by many music publications as the single greatest record of all time. Perhaps the academy foresaw this and really didn't want to look stupid by giving it to fellow nominee Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim. This would also be the second time that the band took home multiple awards, winning the Best Contemporary Album as well (although that's kind of assumed, if you win Best Album in general). Nominations for Group Vocal Performance, Contemporary Vocal Group and Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) (for "A Day In The Life") were left on the table.
02) The Seventh Annual Grammy Awards (1965)
Maybe it's the social media: The recording academy has gotten pretty good at picking out when an act is going to make it big, based on popularity. Lorde got a few wins, Sam Smith took home four trophies this year...but it took a tad longer for modern acts that were popular with young people to come to light during the '60s. The phrase "BEATLEMANIA!" was inscribed (and invented) in all caps across the front of the Daily Telegraph, above the image of a young woman seemingly tearing her hair out. They were around. Finally they got some American awards love when "A Hard Day's Night" took home Best Performance by a Vocal Group and the band itself won Best New Artist. "Hard Day's Night" lost Best Contemporary Song and "I Want To Hold Your Hand" couldn't take Record of The Year.
01) The 39th Annual Grammy Awards (1997)
"Wait," you say. "Did we just make a 26-year jump from the last time The Beatles had won a Grammy, and a 27-year jump from the last time it existed as a band?" Yes! The Beatles most successful Grammys Award show was the 1997 ceremony, where the band brought home three trophies. If this was a ploy to get McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr onto the same stage...it didn't work, despite no feelings of ill-will between the trio. The story was that the band was the subject of the documentary series The Beatles Anthology, which was accompanied by a three-volume set of music. The soundtrack featured a new song, "Free As A Bird," which was actually a home recording by John Lennon, which the rest of the band then added contributions to. That track won Best Music Video (Short Form) and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, while the documentary won Best Music Video (Long Form).