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30 unexpected artists who have never won a Grammy


The Grammy Awards began back in 1959 with the goal of recognising “Outstanding Achievement in the music industry”. It also offered the chance for the press and their pals to rub should with the emerging pop culture stars of the day. This element seems even more apparent in the modern age. 

If that sounds like slight cynicism aimed toward the ceremony of gilded gramophones, the origin story doesn’t do a great deal to bail it out. The ceremony was set up when industry executives realised that many esteemed people involved in music might miss out on a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Thus, they set up a ceremony to rival the Oscars and Emmys in the hope of rectifying music’s place on the Walk of Fame committee. 

While the ceremony usually has a broad spectrum of genres and artists up for awards in categories as niche as Best Improvised Jazz Solo and Best Regional Mexican Music Album Including Tejano (NB neither of those are parodies they are both genuine categories), there have still been some huge, I mean absolutely mammoth names that have slipped through the cracks somehow. 

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Take, for instance, the Ramones—now, there is a band who couldn’t care less about awards, had probably heard of the Grammys, and almost certainly would never show up (which is perhaps why they never won anything), however, as the group credited with getting punk off the ground, it seems strange that their achievements were never recognised from an “outstanding achievement” point of view. 

Sure, they weren’t great musicians and their first record was such a commercial failure, selling only about 5,000 copies in its first year, that the Grammys could be excused for never even hearing it, but thereafter it seems odd that their innovation was never recognised. And you can club in fellow CBGB cohorts who helped to topple the bourgeoisie of music in there too, as Patti Smith and Talking Heads also avoided the gong. Similar innovations in the rap game also got overlooked.

What’s more, if it’s pure musical virtuosity you’re after then it doesn’t get much better than Jimi Hendrix. In fact, it simply doesn’t get better, period. He is the greatest guitarist of all time, and yet he failed to garner recognition from the Grammys. He received one measly nomination in 1970 for his rendition of ‘Star Spangled Banner’ but lost out 

If it’s commercial success you’re looking for, then that isn’t always rewarded by the Grammys either. Perhaps the most mind-bending inclusions of all in the list below are ABBA and Queen. These two mammoths are still to this day at the top of bestseller charts, but neither of the beloved acts picked up a gong. You can check out the full list and give your head a scratch below. 

30 artists who never won a Grammy:

  • ABBA
  • Biggie Smalls
  • Björk
  • Bob Marley
  • Buddy Holly
  • Curtis Mayfield 
  • Depeche Mode
  • Diana Ross
  • Guns ‘n’ Roses
  • Iggy Pop
  • Janis Joplin
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Morrissey
  • Nas
  • Oasis
  • Patti Smith
  • Queen
  • Run D.M.C
  • Rush
  • Sam Cooke
  • Snoop Dogg
  • Talking Heads
  • The Beach Boys
  • The Cure
  • The Doors
  • The Grateful Dead
  • The Kinks
  • The Ramones
  • The Who
  • Tupac

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