In 1958, twelve years after the official start of the baby boom, and seven years after the immortal disc jockey, Allen Freed, coined the term “rock and roll,” a group of record executives launched the Grammy Awards. They felt that rock and roll’s success was threatening to pop music.
The first Grammy Awards Show was held in early May 1959 in the Grand Ballroom of the Beverly Hills Hotel where it stayed for its first three years. There were 28 award categories, and only two were won by what might be considered rock and roll performers, The Everly Brothers and The Champs. In fact, a separate rock and roll award wasn’t even offered until 1961. That first rock and roll Grammy was won by Chubby Checker.
At the 1959 Grammy Awards Show, the Record of the Year and the Song of the Year were both awarded to Domenico Modugno, who sang “Nel blu dipinto di blu.” That song’s popular name was “Volare.” In 1958, Volare had been at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart for five weeks, but not consecutively. It was also Billboard’s number one single of the year.
Volare, Italian for to fly, was translated into English and several other languages. It was covered and performed by quite a few other singers, including Bobby Rydell, formerly known as Robert Louis Ridarelli, who took it to number four on the Billboard chart in 1960. Other singers, whom you might have heard about, who performed Volare include Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Luciano Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, Ella Fitzgerald and Barry White, to name only a few.
And it all started only 57 short years ago.