Before the awards were telecast for the first time in 1971, the Recording Academy held dinners in multiple locations across the U.S. and aired a TV special called “The Best on Record” giving glimpses of the celebrations. Between 1959 to 1970, honorees gathered in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, New York City, Nashville and Chicago for the ceremonies.
When the Grammys eventually changed their format, they became a big hit with audiences at home. Late, great stars Frank Sinatra, Jerry Lewis and Kenny Rogers took the stage to emcee some of the earliest awards shows. As the years went on, movie stars and musicians alike tried their hand at hosting “music’s biggest night.”
Late singer Andy Williams holds the record for most frequent Grammys host having taken up the role from 1971 to 1977. Following closely behind is LL Cool J, who hosted five ceremonies from 2012 to 2016. When James Corden took over the gig the following year, the NCIS actor was at peace with the choice.
“They wanted to do something different, and I actually felt totally comfortable with that,” he told Billboard magazine in February 2017. “I had an amazing run on the Grammys. I’m good. I made some great friends, I have friends at the Academy, friends on the production team, the executives.”
Though the awards often appear to be a well-oiled machine, sometimes things don’t always go as planned. Before she hosted the 62nd annual Grammys from Los Angeles in January 2020, Alicia Keys was forced to make some quick changes to her routine in the wake of Kobe Bryant’s tragic death. She performed an a cappella version of “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” with Boyz II Men to pay tribute to the NBA player at the Staples Center, where he’d played as a Laker.
“I think that it was definitely a crazy feeling because, literally minutes before, we were going to do something else,” the “Underdog” singer said on The Ellen DeGeneres Show days after the Grammys took place. “And we had to really figure out how can we properly honor him in his house on this night [with] everybody who adores him and loves him so much and has been inspired by him and felt so devastated in that moment.”
Keep scrolling for a look back at some of the most notable Grammys hosts through the years.