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Be An Instant Expert on...the Grammys

Why is it called a Grammy? Where can I buy a Grammys jacket Dale Earnhardt Jr. might wear? And why is Georg Solti a bigger player than Sting or Bono? The 411 on all things Grammy is just a few clicks away

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The Police
Neal Preston / Retna

A quick visit to the homepage of the official Grammy website reveals that: (1) Justin Timberlake will be performing at the awards show, accompanied by an as-yet-undetermined winner of an online contest; (2) the Police is just one of the bands that will be reuniting to perform at the ceremony; and (3) ”Watch Music’s Biggest Night” is actually a registered trademark. There’s not a whole lot else going on here, unless you’re looking for a Grammy-embroidered ”NASCAR fire jacket.” The site’s best feature is a series of highlight clips going all the way back to the 1971 show, during which Paul and Linda McCartney scurry up to the podium to accept a special award given to the Beatles and presented by…John Wayne? (Note: Heavy traffic during G-season may delay loading times.)

Tracking down a Grammy winner on the official site is a bit cumbersome. To find out who won the Record of the Year in 1967, you’ll have an easier time of it on RockOnTheNet.com’s Grammy Awards page with its easy-to-navigate listings of winners and nominees in most major categories. (In case you’re wondering, Frank Sinatra won that year, for ”Strangers in the Night.”) From 1959 through 1965, the Record of the Year award was solely an artist’s award, from 1966 to 1998, the producer also won, and since 1999, the engineer and/or mixer who worked on the winning track was added to the list of recipients. Song of the Year, as you might already know, goes to the songwriter. Lastly, only one performer ever took home Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best New Artist — the so-called ”Big Four” — in a single ceremony: Christopher Cross, in 1981.

Of course, this being an American awards show, there are many awards to be handed out. You can win one for the Best Album Notes (AKA liner notes), Best Recording Package, even Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package. Here’s a look back at some past winners for Best Album Cover. This sadly incomplete list begins with the 1971 winner (for Gary McFarland’s America the Beautiful) and ends in 1999 (Madonna’s Ray of Light) — which almost makes sense, since truly awesome album cover design seems to have ended with the demise of vinyl records and the large canvas they once gave art directors.

Quick — who holds the record for most Grammy wins? It’s not Michael Jackson. Or the Eagles. Or U2, though they have won an impressive 22 awards. Nope, the all-time winner — with 31 Grammys and 112 nominations — is…Georg Solti. You know, the late conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra? Right…that Georg Solti .

And why is a Grammy called a ”grammy”? Because the trophy is a gilded likeness of a very old-fashioned record player called a gramophone.

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