In a way, the 6th Annual GRAMMY Awards was a victim of the GRAMMY’s own success. The previous year’s “The Best on Record” broadcast—a one-off production to test how well a televised music awards show would fair—was so widely watched that NBC, sponsor Timex, and The Recording Academy began negotiations for a long-term deal for an annual show. Like today, such complex deals involving multiple parties are not executed overnight. As a result, by the time this deal was hammered out, the 6th GRAMMY presentation had come and gone.
Yet despite the lack of TV presence, by the time of the 6th Annual GRAMMY Awards, the music industry’s top honor had become established enough that the awards presentation was marked primarily by major awards going to both artists who had become GRAMMY favorites and fresh voices who were about to become legends.
On the established GRAMMY favorite side, Henry Mancini would win his 12th, 13th, and 14th GRAMMYs during the presentation of the 6th Annual GRAMMYs, all of them for the bittersweet “Days of Wine and Roses,” which won both Record and Song of the Year as well as Best Background Arrangement. The film of the same name was a stark tale of alcohol addiction as told by the usually comedic director Blake Edwards and solidified one of the most productive director/composer partnerships of all-time.
The freshest new voice came in the form of Album of the Year and Best Vocal Performance, Female, winner Barbra Streisand. Her solo debut, The Barbra Streisand Album, was recorded before she was 21 and set the stage for her remarkable run as a singer, actress and stage performer. Her Album of the Year win marked a turning point of sorts. Though Mancini would go on to win six more GRAMMYs in the coming years, one of the albums Streisand beat was Andy Williams’ The Days of Wine and Roses, as well as the Singing Nun—stage name Soeur Sourire, real name Jeanine Deckers—who had a surprise hit with “Dominique,” which did win for Best Gospel Or Other Religious Recording (Musical), thank God.
Perhaps equally fresh was the first ever GRAMMY win for Quincy Jones, who took Best Instrumental Arrangement for Count Basie’s “I Can’t Stop Loving You.” Jones would go on to win 26 more GRAMMYs to date. In 2007, Jones commented that this first GRAMMY win remains “a true highlight” in one of music’s most distinguished and enduring careers.
There were also awards (Best Vocal Performance, Male) for Jack Jones’ now politically incorrect “Wives and Lovers,” which included the lyrics “Hey little girl, comb your hair, fix your makeup/Soon he will open the door/Don’t think because there’s a ring on your finger/You needn’t try anymore,” and the relatively wholesome choice of a cappella classical vocal group Ward Swingle and the Swingle Singers for Best New Artist of 1963.
Yet there was at least one sign that the times were now truly a-changin’, for both the GRAMMY Awards and the culture at large. Peter, Paul And Mary won two GRAMMYs— Best Folk Recording and Best Performance by a Vocal Group—for their version of Dylan’s classic “Blowin’ in the Wind.” And next year, four mop-topped Liverpudlians would emerge to take the Best New Artist award.
By the following year, the winds were blowin’ the GRAMMYs way, and Music’s Biggest Night would be back on the air to stay.
Ward Swingle (The Swingle Singers)
(Uta Hagen, Arthur Hill, George Grizzard & Melinda Dillon)