Adele backstage at the Grammmy Awards holding her six trophies (Getty Images)
Adele’s big night at the Grammys doesn’t set any new records, but it does enroll the British singer in an elite club of triple-crown winners for the Recording Academy’s top three awards, and artists who have dominated the show with six or more statuettes in a single evening — and it ties her with Beyonce for most wins in a single night by a female artist.
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Adele is only the sixth artist to take home Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Album of the Year since the Grammys were first handed out in 1958. The first artist to do so was Paul Simon in 1971: As the sole writer of “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” he captured Song of the Year, and with singing partner Art Garfunkel he also won Record of the Year; their “Bridge Over Troubled Water” LP was named Album of the Year.
The following year, Carole King became the first woman to win Song of the Year, which went to “You’ve Got a Friend,” a title recorded both by King on her “Tapestry” album and by James Taylor, whose cover version went to No. 1 on the Hot 100. King also won Record of the Year for another “Tapestry” track, the No. 1 single “It’s Too Late,” while the parent LP won Album of the Year.
The next hat trick came in 1981 when Christopher Cross’ “Sailing” won the Song and Record categories, while his eponymous debut took home the album trophy. In 1993, Eric Clapton’s emotionally-charged “Tears in Heaven” was named Song and Record of the Year; his “Unplugged” won in the Album category. And in 2007, the Dixie Chicks were triumphant with “Not Ready to Make Nice” in the Song and Record divisions, while “Taking the Long Way” was named Album of the Year.
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There were three years with close-but-not-quite sweeps: in each case the winning artist did not write the song that prevailed. In 1992, Natalie Cole’s recording of “Unforgettable” with her late father, Nat King Cole, was Song and Record of the Year, while “Unforgettable…With Love” picked up the Grammy for Album of the Year. In 2001, Carlos Santana did not write “Smooth,” so won Record of the Year and Album of the Year (“Supernatural”) categories. And in 2003, Norah Jones was not the composer of “Don’t Know Why,” named Song and Record of the Year while her “Come Away With Me” was victorious in the Album category.
Winning six Grammys in one night also puts Adele in a very small club. Roger Miller was the first artist to win that many trophies in a single evening, at the 1966 ceremony. His “King of the Road” song won in five categories and his album “The Return of Roger Miller” in one. A year earlier, he had come close by winning five Grammys, thanks to his novelty hit, “Dang Me.”
Before Adele, three other artists won six Grammys in one night: Quincy Jones in 1991 for his “Back on the Block” album, Clapton in 1993 and Beyoncé in 2010. Jones was named Producer of the Year and won Album of the Year for “Back on the Block.” He also won Best Arrangement on an Instrumental and Best Jazz Fusion Performance for “Birdland,” Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocals for “The Places You Find Love” and Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for the title track from “Back on the Block.” Clapton’s three other wins aside from Song, Record and Album of the Year were for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for “Tears in Heaven,” Best Rock Song for his updating of “Layla” and Best Rock Vocal Performance for the “Unplugged” CD. Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” won Song of the Year, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song. She also won Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for “Halo,” Best Contemporary R&B Album for “I Am…Sasha Fierce” and Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance for “At Last,” from the soundtrack to “Cadillac Records”; Beyoncé starred as Etta James in the film about Chess Records.
Three artists have topped the six-figure mark. Paul Simon won a total of seven in 1971, the year of “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Three artists have topped the six-figure mark. Paul Simon won a total of seven in 1971, all for the album “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and songs from that classic LP. But the all-time champs, both with eight Grammys in a single evening, are Michael Jackson and Carlos Santana. Jackson triumphed in 1984, with seven awards related to “Thriller” and one for Best Recording for Children for “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” featuring Jackson narrating the story of E.T. Santana’s comeback with “Supernatural” and the smash hit “Smooth” was strong enough to earn eight Grammys at the 2000 ceremony.
Since Adele was named Best New Artist at the 2009 Grammys, she is only the second person in NARAS history to win that category as well as Song, Record and Album of the Year. The first person to win these four awards was Cross, who did it all in one night back in 1981.