We should start this out with a bit of history on this show. The first Grammy Awards ceremonies were held on May 4, 1959, to recognize musical accomplishments by performers for the year 1958. It was a star-studded banquet held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and a mere 28 awards were handed out. The event was emceed by a comedian/actor named Mort Sahl. The word “Grammy” is short for gramophone which was an early record player. The academy had been founded only two years earlier and was a newcomer to the awards season. The number of Grammy categories had once grown to more than 100 but now stands at 81.
The Grammys in many years did not have a designated host. However there are many whose stint at manning the helm of this awards show brought them back to host again. Here is a look a ten of the most memorable to have done this job.
10. Kelsey Grammer
Some Grammy hosts have been caught off guard. This was the case when Kelsey Grammer who hosted the 40th event in 1998. Suddenly he had to try to make sense of a shirtless stage crasher who interrupted Bob Dylan’s performance by running across the stage, with the words, “Soy Bomb” painted on his bare-chest. Though he played a psychologist on television at the time, Grammer appeared as confused by the stunt as everyone else.
9. Whoopi Goldberg
Many times a host will also be a Grammy winner, as was the case in 1992, when Whoopi Goldberg hosted the Grammys. That year she also won a Grammy for Best Comedy Recording for her album, Whoopi Goldberg – Original Broadway Show Recording.
8. John Denver
Denver hosted the Grammys five times but not in succession. He hosted first in 1978, again in 1979. Country star Kenny Rogers did the honors in 1980 and Paul Simon in 1981. Denver came back to host again three more times, for the 24th, 25th , 26th and 27th Grammy Awards shows.
7. Andy Williams
Before comedy became a staple on Grammy telecasts, hosts were selected for their own musical accomplishments. Andy Williams was a ‘60s superstar with hits such as, “Moon River” as well as his two television variety shows. Williams hosted the first seven live Grammy shows, beginning in 1971, on the 13th Annual Grammy Awards through to 1977 for the 19th Grammy show. He is the only one of those early musical hit-makers not to have won a Grammy himself, though he was nominated several times.
6. Jon Stewart
Stewart hosted both the 43rd and 44th Grammys in 2001-2002. At the 43rd Grammys he established an immediate, self-deprecating tone talking about getting older and noting, “As I was watching Madonna writhing around on the hood of the car, all I could think was — that’s really gonna drive up her insurance premiums.” His entrance onto the stage for the 44th Grammys was interesting to say the least. At the end of an opening skit in which he grappled with a pretend, airport security team (a take-off on the tightened post 911 security measures), he was stripped down to his boxer shorts. Stewart quipped, “Remember when security was tight because Eminem was going to sing with Elton John?” Stewart quipped, referring to the controversial performance on the previous year’s Grammy show. “Those were the days, weren’t they, folks?”
5. Rosie O’Donnell
Rosie O’Donnell, ever veering on the side of controversy (this despite having been dubbed, “The Queen of Nice”), O’Donnell who hosted in 1999 for the 41st Grammys noted, “There are so many women nominated this year, Fox is backstage filming their own TV special — ‘When Divas Attack.’” She was also host for the 42nd Grammy Awards in 2000 and took aim at singer Whitney Houston. O’Donnell, making reference to Houston’s recent arrest at the time for marijuana possession at a Hawaiian airport, both in her opening monologue and with this introduction to the singer’s performance of “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay” said “Our next performer is a huge fan of the doobies.”
4. Billy Crystal
Crystal hosted twice, first at the 30th Grammys in 1988 which was held at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Crystal explained, talking the choice of Radio City, “Because it’s the only building Donald Trump doesn’t own…yet.” When he hosted again the following year for the 31st Grammys, Crystal proclaimed, “This year promises to be a kinder, gentler GRAMMY,” using one of then-President George H.W. Bush’s stated objectives for the nation.
3. Garry Shandling
Shandling hosted the Grammys 4 times…the 32nd, 33rd, 35th and lastly in 1994 at the 36th Grammy Awards. Always looking for laughs here is some of his material from those broadcasts: “If you at home want to know, by the way, how they decide each year where to hold the Grammys, it’s simply wherever Phil Collins is already performing.” Or at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles for the 33rd Grammys, “Okay, I’ll go out on a limb and say if you’re up against Eric Clapton in any other categories, I’d go home now. It’s a feeling I have.” Last but not least Frank Sinatra was cut off from speaking and a commercial came on at the 1994 broadcast, even Shandling felt the need to distance himself on air from that decision. Winking he said, “Before I go on, I think you’d join me going on record that Mr. Sinatra should have finished his speech,” He then told the audience. “I think that was a slight mistake. This is live television and I’m sure Mr. Sinatra will get even by cutting this show off in another hour.”
2. LL Cool J
LL Cool J has hosted the Grammys twice both the 54th and the 55th in 2012 and 2013. When he takes the stage tonight to host the 56th Grammy awards for the third time in a row, nobody will question his credentials. He is a two-time Grammy-winning rapper, also the star of the television series, “NCIS Los Angeles”. He is a multifaceted dynamo in the world of entertainment and I would think very much at home with hosting the Grammy Awards.
1. Ellen DeGeneres
Ellen hosted both the 38th and the 39th Grammys in 1996 and 1997. At the 39thGrammy Awards, Ellen was returning host for the second year in a row. She kicked things off with a song that could only be called “This Is Ellen’s GRAMMY Song,” and was backed by an all-star, all-female band that featured among others Bonnie Raitt, Shawn Colvin, Chaka Khan and Shelia E.
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