Recipients of the Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award and Trustees Awards were announced today by Michael Greene, President/CEO of the Recording Academy. Pianist and band leader Count Basie and recording artists Perry Como, Rosemary Clooney, Al Green, and Joni Mitchell will receive Lifetime Achievement Awards. Engineer/producer Tom Dowd and original rock disc jockey Alan Freed will be honored with Trustees Awards.
Formal acknowledgment of the awards will be made in conjunction with the 44th Annual GRAMMY ® Awards ceremony, which willbe held at Los Angeles’ Staples Center on Wednesday, Feb. 27. The show will be a prime-time television special on the CBS Television Network.
“The recipients of these awards are in a rarified league all their own. They are a prestigious group of diverse and influential creators who have given us some of the most distinctive and seminal recordings of the last century,” said Greene. “Their outstanding achievements have left a timeless legacy that has changed the world socially and has given voice to our cultural condition. Their work exemplifies the highest creative and technical standards by which we all measure our own personal and professional contributions.”
The Lifetime Achievement Award honors lifelong artistic contributions to the recording medium while the Trustees Award recognizes outstanding contributions to the industry in a non-performing capacity. Both special merit awards are decided by vote of the Recording Academy’s National Trustees during meetings held annually in May. The winners will be officially acknowledged in a ceremony during GRAMMY Week in Los Angeles.
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT WINNERS (Alphabetical)
Count Basie, born William Basie, was among the most important bandleaders of the swing era. He led a band almost continuously from 1935 until his death in 1984, and even after his passing, his band continued to perform with much success. Basie led his orchestra from the piano; his work was characterized by a light, swinging rhythm section, vibrant ensemble work, and generous soloing, which epitomized swing and became broadly influential on jazz. Basie’s first professional work was accompanying vaudeville performers. In 1935, he led a band called the Barons of Rhythm. When the band began broadcasting on the radio in Kansas City, an announcer dubbed him “Count” Basie. Basie’s band made its recording debut on Decca Records two years later and its recording of “One O’ Clock Jump” became the band’s theme song (the song was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall of Fame in 1979, followed by “April in Paris” in 1985 and “Everyday (I Have the Blues)” in 1992). Basie performed with many legends throughout his career, including Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., and Jackie Wilson. He won nine GRAMMY Awards, two of them at the 1st Annual GRAMMY Awards ceremony in 1959 for Best Performance By A Dance Band and Best Jazz Performance, Group (both for “Basie”).
Between the end of World War II and the rise of rock and roll in the mid-’50s, Perry Como emerged as a leading vocalist by perfecting the big band approach to pop music and lending his warm baritone voice to the popular hits of the day. His easy, relaxed singing style and engaging sense of humor proved ideal for all forms of media and he was virtually unrivaled in his public appeal. Como shined in Hollywood with the musical films “A Song To Remember,” “Something to Shout About” and “Something for the Boys”; he proved a success in television – still a new medium at the time – with his weekly hit show “Music Hall”; hosted a popular regional radio show and then made a successful transition from radio to TV in 1948 as star of “The Chesterfield Supper Club,” which eventually earned him four Emmy Awards; and of course, as an RCA recording artist, with best-selling records like “Til the End of Time,” “Catch a Falling Star,” “Dream Along With Me,” and “Surrender.” His performance of “Catch A Falling Star” earned him the GRAMMY Award for Best Vocal Performance, Male at the 1st Annual GRAMMY Awards. “Til the End of Time” was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall of Fame in 1998.
For more than 50 years, vocalist Rosemary Clooney’s dramatic performance skills and excellent lyric interpretation have ranked her among the finest jazz-based vocalists in American music. She began her career by singing with her sister for WLW radio in Cincinnati until she signed on with Columbia Records as a soloist in 1950. Her professional career soared in 1951 when her recording of “Come On-a My House” became a huge hit. Clooney followed that with several hits such as “You’re Just In Love,” “Beautiful Brown Eyes,” “Hey There,””This Ole House,” and “If Teardrops Were Pennies,” and collaborated with legends including Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, and Bing Crosby. In addition, Clooney has appeared and starred in many television specials and shows and has also worked in films such as “The Stars Are Singing,” “Here Comes the Girls,” “White Christmas” and “Red Garters.” Her song “Hey There” was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall of Fame in 1999.
Al Green is one of the most popular and influential soul singers of the ’70s. Born in Arkansas, at the age of nine he formed a gospel quartet with his family known as the Green Brothers. In 1969, Green signed with Hi Records and even though his debut album didn’t produce any hit singles, it was well-received and did pave the way for the success of his second album “Al Green Gets Next To You.” Green’s seductive style made him known as both a hit-maker and an artist who released consistently engaging, critically acclaimed albums. “Tired of Being Alone,” “Let’s Stay Together,” “Look What You Done For Me,” “I’m Still In Love With You,””Call Me,” “Here I Am,” and “Sha-La-La (Make Me Happy)” all became Top 10 singles. His unique, smooth vocals have earned him nine GRAMMY Awards in his career, and “Let’s Stay Together” was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall of Fame in 1999. Green continues to perform both gospel and soul material in concert, and his early recordings, considered classics by most, have retained their power and influence throughout the decades.
Five time GRAMMY Award-winner Joni Mitchell is one of the finest singers/songwriters of her generation. Born in Alberta, Canada, Mitchell emerged from New York’s folk circuit in 1967 and became known for her deeply personal songs and engaging performances. That same year she signed with Reprise and her first, self-titled album – co-produced by David Crosby – was released shortly after. An innovative and experimental artist, Mitchell’s music has evolved from its early folk roots to embrace pop, rock, jazz, and multi-cultural world music, resulting in a creative legacy which has paved the way for countless contemporary performers. In addition to being a remarkable songwriter and recording artist, with hits like “Both Sides Now,” “Help Me,” “Big Yellow Taxi” and “Woodstock,” Mitchell also has produced or co-produced all of her albums since her debut and even created the artwork for each of her album covers. Her album “Blue” was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall of Fame in 1999.
TRUSTEES AWARD WINNERS (Alphabetical)
A man gifted with a unique understanding of both the technical and performance aspects of music, engineer and producer Tom Dowd has worked with some of the greats, including Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Diana Ross, John Coltrane, Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart, Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers, to name a few. From 1942 to 1946 he worked on the Manhattan Project at the Columbia University Pupin Physics Lab while also training as a musician. In 1947, Dowd began working at record labels in New York, where he applied his knowledge of physics to the limiting principles of disc recording. Five years later he set a precedent at Atlantic Records when he helped introduce binaural/stereo recording, which Atlantic used from that point forward on all jazz recordings. In 1954, Dowd designed and built Atlantic’s first stereo and 8-track consoles, revolutionizing the way that music was recorded.
In the ’50s, DJ Alan Freed personified the essence of rock and roll and helped lay the groundwork for today’s multi-billion dollar rock recording industry. Although he didn’t create the product, originally known as R&B, he is credited with popularizing the phrase “rock and roll.” He also was the first person to implement a majority of the promotional methods that would traditionally be employed by the recording industry over the next three decades. Among them were live concerts (he brought rock and roll to Broadway with a 1957 show at the New York Paramount); national radio broadcasts (he had the first live network rock and roll program broadcast by CBS radio in 1956); rock videos (which, beginning with “Rock Around The Clock,” were seen in a series of internationally distributed rock and roll movies starring Freed); and national television (his weekly music show on ABC-TV pre-dated “American Bandstand”).