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The first award night

By Ilisapeci Tinanisigabalavu
Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The first Grammy award was held on May 4, 1959, where musicians recognised the musical achievements of entertainers for the year 1958. On that night, many of music's elite gathered for a black-tie dinner and awards presentation at the Grand Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton. These elites included Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr, Gene Autry, Dean Martin, Domenico Modugno and Henry Mancini to name a few.

There was another function held simultaneously at the same time at the Park Sheraton Hotel in New York City where other new Academy members gathered.

The Academy's former executive vice president, Christine Farnon, who was instrumental in organising the first show, said that the Grammy awards were a formal event from the beginning and no one objected to dressing black-tie back then.

Several other Grammy nights that followed after were held in hotel ballrooms in both coasts - East and West. The Los Angeles Grammy night was emceed by popular comedian Mort Sahl and featured a musical sketch titled How South Was My Pacific. The night was a significant success. Billboard - wrote its account of the success of the first night of Music's Biggest Night with the headline "Academy Smoothly Moves Into Orbit: First Awards Well-Organised Affair As Top Stars Go On Parade."

The night of the first Grammy was reported to have been full of surprises from the start. Sinatra led all nominees with a grand total of six nominations, but did not turn out to be the night's biggest winner. The very first Record of the Year and Song of the Year awards were awarded to Domenico Modugno for his song, Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu (Volare). The Album of the Year award went to The Music from Peter Gunn by Henry Mancini.

Sinatra did not win his first Grammy for singing but for his role as art director for his Only the Lonely album that won Best Album Cover.

There were only 28 categories that were presented on the first Grammy night - the least ever. Other winners on the night included Ella Fitzgerald who won Best Vocal Performance - Female, and Best Jazz Performance - Individual, David Seville and the Chipmunks won Best Comedy Performance and Best Recording for Children. The Best Engineered Record - Non Classical was awarded to Ted Keep for The Chipmunk Song. The song Tom Dooley by the Kingston Trios won Best Country & Western Performance and Tequila by the Champs was awarded the Best Rhythm & Blues Performance.

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