11 Crooners, Composers and Celebrities of Grammys Past

2 minute read

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.

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
Frank Sinatra, 1963
Frank Sinatra won nine Grammys, not counting a Lifetime Achievement Award and Trustees Award. Pictured recording "Come Blow Your Horn" in 1963.Gjon Mili—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Rita Moreno, 1954
Rita Moreno won one Grammy, in 1972. Pictured here in 1954.Loomis Dean—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Louis Armstrong, 1963
Louis Armstrong won one Grammy, for "Hello Dolly" in 1964. Pictured with his band playing at the Clover Club during the opening of New Walker Hill Resort, 1963.Larry Burrows—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Ella Fitzgerald, 1958
Ella Fitzgerald is tied for the fifth most Grammy awards for a female performer, with 13. Pictured in 1958.Allan Grant—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Eric Clapton, 1969
Eric Clapton is on the list of the top 20 artists with the most Grammys. He has won 17. Pictured here in 1969, when he was playing with the group Blind Faith.Ralph Crane—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Leonard Bernstein, 1962
Leonard Bernstein won 16 Grammys, putting him on the list of top 20 male performers. Pictured rehearsing the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center, 1962.Ralph Morse—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Simon and Garfunkel, 1968
Simon and Garfunkel have collected nine Grammys and a Lifetime Achievement Award. Pictured here performing in Philadelphia, 1968.Charles Phillips—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Judy Garland, 1951
Judy Garland won several Grammys for her album Judy At Carnegie Hall as well as a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award. Pictured at a performance at the Paladium, 1951.Cornell Capa—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Ray Charles, 1966
Ray Charles won 17 awards, putting him on the list of top 20 Grammy winners. Pictured with the Raelettes, in recording studio, 1966.Bill Ray—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Leontyne Price, 1961
Opera singer Leontyne Price won 13 Grammys, putting her in the top five female artists, just two spots after Beyoncé. Pictured leaving stage after performance in Verdi's Il Trovatore, her debut at the Metropolitan Opera.Alfred Eisenstaedt—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

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