John Prine, Chicago & More Artists Who Lost the Grammy for Best New Artist but Later Got a Lifetime Achievement Award

Danny Clinch
John Prine

Here's some advice for Billie Eilish, Lil Nas X, Lizzo, Maggie Rogers and this year's other four Grammy nominees for best new artist. If your name isn't called as the winner in that category when the 62nd annual Grammy Awards are presented on Jan. 26, don't lose heart. You can still go on to a significant recording career. Look no further than Chicago and John Prine, who each lost the Grammy for best new artist back in the day, but today (Dec. 19) were announced as lifetime achievement award recipients by the Recording Academy.

Chicago was nominated for the 1969 best new artist award, but lost to Crosby, Stills & Nash. Prine was nominated three years later, but lost to America.

Another of the 1969 runner-ups, Led Zeppelin, received a lifetime achievement award in 2005. And it seems all but certain that one day, another of the 1972 runner-ups, Eagles, will receive a lifetime achievement award. (Frankly, it's hard to imagine that Eagles haven't gotten one yet.)

Here's a complete list of artists who lost the best new artist Grammy but later received a lifetime achievement award from the Recording Academy.

Leontyne Price. The soprano lost to future TV legend Bob Newhart as best new artist of 1960, but received a lifetime achievement award in 1989. Newhart simply made a bigger splash in 1960. He won three Grammys, including album of the year for The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart. Price won just one award that year—best classical performance—vocal soloist for A Program of Song—Leontyne Price Recital.

Antonio Carlos Jobim. The musician who was at the forefront of the worldwide bossa nova wave lost to The Beatles as best new artist of 1964 (no shame in that), but received a lifetime achievement award in 2012. Again, the Beatles had a bigger year in 1964. The Fab Four had four noms, winning two awards—best new artist and best performance by a vocal group for "A Hard Day's Night." Best new artist was Jobim's only nom that year. (His composition "The Girl From Ipanema" won record of the year, but wasn't eligible for song of the year.)

Jefferson Airplane. The rock band lost to Bobbie Gentry as best new artist of 1967, but received a lifetime achievement award in 2016. Gentry received eight Grammy nominations for 1967, including each of the "Big Four"—album, record and song of the year plus best new artist. She won three. Best new artist was Jefferson Airplane's only nom.

Cream. The rock trio lost to José Feliciano as best new artist of 1968, but received a lifetime achievement award in 2006. Feliciano received four noms that year, including album of the year for Feliciano! He won two. Best new artist was Cream's only nom. (But the trio's Eric Clapton has gone on to amass 17 Grammys).

Led Zeppelin. The hard rock band lost to Crosby, Stills & Nash as best new artist of 1969, but received a lifetime achievement award in 2005. Best new artist was Led Zep's only nom that year (but the band's Robert Plant has gone on to land eight Grammys).

Chicago. The band lost to Crosby, Stills & Nash as best new artist of 1969, but received a lifetime achievement award this year. CSN was up for three awards, including album of the year, for 1969, whereas best new artist was Chicago's only nomination that year.

John Prine. The singer/songwriter lost to America as best new artist of 1972, but received a lifetime achievement award this year. America was up for two 1972 awards—the other was best pop vocal performance by a duo, group or chorus for "A Horse With No Name," whereas best new artist was Prine's only nomination that year.

In addition, Elton John lost to Carpenters as best new artist of 1970, but received a Grammy legend award in 2000. (That's different than a lifetime achievement award—an award that is probably in John's future.) Both John and Carpenters were album of the year nominees that year (for Elton John and Close to You, respectively), but Carpenters had one more nom overall—four vs. three.

Looking to the future, many more artists who lost best new artist could receive lifetime achievement awards. In addition to Eagles and John, other contenders include The Four Seasons and Peter, Paul & Mary (both of whom lost the 1962 award to Broadway star Robert Goulet); Cher and The Byrds (both of whom lost the 1965 award to Tom Jones—Cher was nominated as half of Sonny & Cher); Bill Withers (who lost the 1971 award to Carly Simon); Elvis  Costello (who lost the 1978 award to A Taste of Honey); and Luther Vandross (who lost the 1981 award to Sheena Easton).

Looking way into the future, keep your eye on Andrea Bocelli (who lost the 1998 award to Lauryn Hill); John Mayer (who lost the 2002 award to Norah Jones); Kanye West (who lost the 2004 award to Maroon 5); Taylor Swift (who lost the 2007 award to Amy Winehouse); Drake (who lost the 2010 award to Esperanza Spalding); and Kendrick Lamar and Ed Sheeran (who each lost the 2013 award to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis).


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