GRAMMY Rewind: 1st Annual GRAMMY Awards

Henry Mancini wins Album Of The Year and Domenico Modugno takes home Record and Song Of The Year against these nominees
  • Henry Mancini, The Music From Peter Gunn
  • Photo: Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage.com
    Ella Fitzgerald
  • Photo: Ron Galella/WireImage.com
    Frank Sinatra
  • Photo: Ron Galella/WireImage.com
    Peggy Lee
  • Photo: Chris Walter/WireImage.com
    Perry Como
January 04, 2012 -- 1:24 pm PST
GRAMMY.com

(For a complete list of 54th GRAMMY Awards nominees, please click here.)

Music's Biggest Night, the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards, will air live from Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.

In the weeks leading up to the telecast, we will take a stroll down music memory lane with GRAMMY Rewind, highlighting the "big four" categories — Album Of The Year, Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year, and Best New Artist — from past awards shows. In the process, we'll examine the winners and the nominees who just missed taking home a GRAMMY, while also shining a light on the artists' careers and the eras in which the recordings were born.

Join us as we take an abbreviated journey through the trajectory of pop music from the 1st Annual GRAMMY Awards in 1959 to last year's 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards.


1st Annual GRAMMY Awards
May 4, 1959

Album Of The Year
Winner: Henry Mancini, The Music From Peter Gunn
Van Cliburn, Tchaikovksy: Concerto No. 1 In B-Flat Minor, Op. 23
Ella Fitzgerald, Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Irving Berlin Songbook
Frank Sinatra, Come Fly With Me
Frank Sinatra, Only The Lonely

At the first-ever annual GRAMMY Awards ceremony — so early in the GRAMMY game that the presentation didn't even air on TV — the great composer Henry Mancini began a string of 20 GRAMMY wins by taking the first Album Of The Year award. The Music From Peter Gunn began to show the real promise of both Mancini — who would become arguably the top film composer of his era — and his collaborations with writer/director Blake Edwards. The two would go on to create film and music magic with the Pink Panther series. The Peter Gunn title track became the first hit TV theme.

Among the competition, Sinatra had the rare feat of landing both of his 1958 albums in the running, likely cancelling out his chances for a win. Come Fly With Me was a jaunty upbeat album that was Sinatra's first with arranger Billy May. Only The Lonely was a concept song cycle arranged by Nelson Riddle. Both hold up as peaks in Sinatra's career. Ella Fitzgerald made the cut with one of her several songbook albums, this one dedicated to the legendary Irving Berlin. Finally, pianist Van Cliburn was coming off his historic April 1958 win at the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, hailed as a cultural warm breeze in the bleak years of the Cold War.


Record Of The Year
Winner: Domenico Modugno, "Nel Blu Dipinto Blu (Volare)"
Perry Como, "Catch A Falling Star"
Peggy Lee, "Fever"
David Seville And The Chipmunks, "The Chipmunk Song"
Frank Sinatra, "Witchcraft"

The first Record Of The Year winner was also the only foreign language release to win the award to date. Domenico Modugno became one of the first Italian international pop music stars, and rode the song that became popularly known as "Volare" to worldwide fame, even if he never quite achieved that level of success again. Sinatra also gained a nomination here with the irrepressible "Witchcraft," which appeared on neither of his nominated albums, giving a sense of the hot streak the Chairman was on. Lee made the group with the saucy "Fever," which would become her highest charting hit of the rock era. Como crooned his way onto the list with "Catch A Falling Star," one of three Top 10 singles he scored that year ("Magic Moments" and "Kewpie Doll" were the others). Finally, the Chipmunks, resurrected through a successful big-screen film franchise in recent years, snuck in with the novelty "The Chipmunk Song," written and performed by Chipmunks creator Ross Bagdasarian (whose stage name was David Seville), who also co-penned a signature hit for Rosemary Clooney with "Come On-A My House."


Song Of The Year
Winner: Domenico Modugno, "Nel Blu Dipinto Blu (Volare)"
Perry Como, "Catch A Falling Star"
Vic Damone, "Gigi"
Peggy Lee, "Fever"
Frank Sinatra, "Witchcraft"

No huge surprises here, with "Nel Blu Dipinto Blu (Volare)" (written by Franco Migliacci and Modugno), "Catch A Falling Star" (by Lee Pockriss and Paul Vance, who also wrote the Cuff Links hit "Tracy," among others as a team), "Fever" (by Eddie Cooley and John Davenport), and "Witchcraft" (by Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh, who was one of the top female composers of the Great American Songbook era with titles such as "Young At Heart" and "The Best Is Yet To Come" to her credit) reprising their Record Of The Year nominations. Vic Damone's "Gigi" (by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe), from the Vincente Minnelli film of the same name, rounded out the nominees.


Best New Artist
There was no Best New Artist category in 1958. The first award was presented at the 2nd Annual GRAMMY Awards, won by Bobby Darin.


Come back to GRAMMY.com Jan. 6 as we revisit the 5th Annual GRAMMY Awards. Meanwhile, visit The Recording Academy's social networks on Facebook and Twitter for updates and breaking GRAMMY news.

GRAMMY Rewind: 1962

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