Barbara Streisand, 1966
Barbra Streisand has won eight Grammys, her first in 1963 and her most recent in 1986. Pictured in a recording studio, 1966.Bill Eppridge—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Barbara Streisand, 1966
Frank Sinatra, 1963
Rita Moreno, 1954
Louis Armstrong, 1963
Ella Fitzgerald, 1958
Eric Clapton, 1969
Leonard Bernstein, 1962
Simon and Garfunkel, 1968
Judy Garland, 1951
Ray Charles, 1966
Leontyne Price, 1961
Barbra Streisand has won eight Grammys, her first in 1963 and her most recent in 1986. Pictured in a recording studio, 1
... VIEW MORE

Bill Eppridge—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
1 of 11

11 Crooners, Composers and Celebrities of Grammys Past

Feb 06, 2015

Though it’s tempting to look back only as far as their most recent headline-grabbing stunts, the Grammys have been around for nearly 60 years. Before Kanye told Taylor Swift, “Imma let you finish” and J. Lo brought new meaning to the word “cleavage,” before Pink whipped out her Cirque du Soleil moves and Lady Gaga hatched from an egg, things were a little bit simpler. The pageantry dialed back and the garb subdued.

LIFE's photographers captured Grammy-winning icons from Ray Charles—who remains among most decorated winners with 17 Grammys—to Rita Moreno, who won only one Grammy but became the first Latina to win an EGOT—one each of an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony.

Some of these artists, like Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra, were at a disadvantage in the arms (full of Grammys) race, as the inaugural Grammy Awards didn’t take place until 1959, at which point they had all been recording for 15 years or more.

Luckily, music fans know that the gilded gramophone is little more than the icing on the cake. A Grammy can’t make a star any more than a butchered cow can make a dress (unless that dress is going to be worn by Lady Gaga).

Not that anyone’s complaining about taking one home.

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LizabethRonk.

TIME may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.