Winners

1st Annual GRAMMY Awards (1958)

In the beginning, there was heaven and earth and the 1st Annual GRAMMY Awards—more or less in that order.

On May 4, 1959, many of music’s elite—including Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Gene Autry, Johnny Mercer, Henry Mancini and André Previn—gathered for a black-tie dinner and awards presentation inside the Grand Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton. At the same time, other new Academy members were gathering at a function held simultaneously in New York City. “The GRAMMY Awards were a formal event from the beginning and very much in keeping with the times,” says Christine Farnon, who was instrumental in organizing the first show and would go on to become The Academy’s Executive Vice President. “As I recall, no one objected to dressing black-tie back then, though like so much else, that would change eventually.”

But this GRAMMY night, and several to follow, was held in hotel ballrooms on both coasts. The Los Angeles event was emceed by popular political comedian Mort Sahl and featured a musical sketch titled “How South Was My Pacific.” The night was by numerous accounts a significant success. Billboard—then actually still called The Billboard—ran its account of the first night of Music’s Biggest Night with a headline declaring that “Academy Smoothly Moves Into Orbit: First Awards Well-Organized Affair As Top Stars Go On Parade.” The trade magazine even favorably compared the GRAMMY’s debut to the far more established Oscars and Emmys: “It sharply contrasted similar affairs staged by the two older entertainment academies in its precision-like pace in handling the presentations.”

As well organized as the night may have been, from the very start at the GRAMMYs, there would be surprises on GRAMMY night. While Sinatra led all nominees with a grand total of six nominations, he would not turn out to be the night’s biggest winner. Rather the very first Record of the Year and Song of the Year awards both went to “Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu (Volare)” by Domenico Modugno, while Album of the Year went to The Music from Peter Gunn by Henry Mancini.

As for Sinatra, he fortunately didn’t go home empty-handed. He won his first GRAMMY not for singing, but rather as art director for his Only the Lonely album that won Best Album Cover. And though only 28 categories were presented on this first GRAMMY night—the least ever—the first winners suggested the diversity that would come to mark the GRAMMY Awards, with winners that ranged from Ella Fitzgerald (Best Vocal Performance, Female, and Best Jazz Performance, Individual) to David Seville and the Chipmunks (Best Comedy Performance and Best Recording For Children, while Best Engineered Record—Non Classical went to Ted Keep for “The Chipmunk Song”), from the Kingston Trio’s “Tom Dooley” (Best County & Western Performance) to the Champ’s “Tequila” (Best Rhythm & Blues Performance).

Much more—in every conceivable way, and some ways still inconceivable—was still to come.

Record Of The Year
 
winner
Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu (Volare)

Domenico Modugno, artist.

Album Of The Year
 
winner
Henry Mancini, GRAMMY winner
The Music From Peter Gunn

Henry Mancini, artist.

Song Of The Year
 
winner
Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu (Volare)

Domenico Modugno, songwriter.

Best Vocal Performance, Female
 
winner
Ella Fitzgerald, GRAMMY winner
Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Irving Berlin Song Book

Ella Fitzgerald, artist.

Best Vocal Performance, Male
 
winner
Catch A Falling Star

Perry Como, artist.

Best Performance By An Orchestra
 
winner
Billy May's Big Fat Brass

Billy May, artist.

Best Performance By A Dance Band
 
winner
Basie

Count Basie, artist.

Best Performance By A Vocal Group Or Chorus
 
winner
That Old Black Magic

Keely Smith & Louis Prima, artists.

Best Jazz Performance, Individual
 
winner
Ella Fitzgerald, GRAMMY winner
Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Duke Ellington Song Book

Ella Fitzgerald, soloist.

Best Jazz Performance, Group
 
winner
Basie

Count Basie, artist.

Best Comedy Performance
 
winner
The Chipmunk Song

Ross Bagdasarian Sr., artist.

Best Country & Western Performance
 
winner
Tom Dooley

Kingston Trio (David Guard, Nick Reynolds, Bob Shane), artist.

Best Rhythm & Blues Performance
 
winner
Tequila

Champs (Gene Alden, Buddy Bruce, Dave Burgess, Danny Flores), artist.

Best Arrangement
 
winner
Henry Mancini, GRAMMY winner
The Music From Peter Gunn

Henry Mancini, arranger.

Best Engineered Record (Classical)
 
winner
Duets With A Spanish Guitar

Sherwood Hall III, engineer.

Best Engineered Record - Non-Classical
 
winner
The Chipmunk Song

Ted (Theodore) Keep, engineer.

Best Album Cover
 
winner
Only The Lonely

Frank Sinatra, art director.

Best Musical Composition First Recorded And Released In 1958 (Over 5 Minutes Duration)
 
winner
Cross Country Suite

Nelson Riddle, composer.

Best Original Cast Album (Broadway Or TV)
 
winner
The Music Man

Meredith Willson, composer.

Best Sound Track Album, Dramatic Picture Score Or Original Cast
 
winner
André Previn
Gigi

André Previn, artist.

Best Performance, Documentary Or Spoken Word
 
winner
The Best Of The Stan Freberg Shows

Stan Freberg, narrator.

Best Recording For Children
 
winner
The Chipmunk Song

Ross Bagdasarian Sr., artist.

Best Classical Performance - Orchestra
 
winner
Gaiete Parisienne

Felix Slatkin, artist.

Best Classical Performance - Instrumentalist (With Concerto Scale Accompaniment)
 
winner
Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1 In B Flat Minor, Op. 23

Van Cliburn, artist.

Best Classical Performance - Instrumentalist (Other Than Concerto-Scale Accompaniment)
 
winner
Segovia Golden Jubilee

Andres Segovia, artist.

Best Classical Performance - Chamber Music (Including Chamber Orchestra)
 
winner
Beethoven: Quartet 130

Hollywood String Quartet (Alvin Dinkin, Paul Shure, Eleanor Aller Slatkin, Felix Slatkin), artist.

Best Classical Performance - Vocal Soloist (With Or Without Orchestra)
 
winner
Operatic Recital

Renata Tebaldi, artist.

Best Classical Performance - Operatic Or Choral
 
winner
Virtuoso

Roger Wagner, choir director.