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Today In Country Music History: The First Grammys Awarded

The Grammy Awards are the pinnacle of success for musicians, songwriters, and producers.  On this date in 1959, the first Grammy Awards ceremony was held.  Unlike today’s awards programs, only a handful awards were given.  In fact, only 28 awards were presented (compared to nearly 100 today).  Likewise, country music only had one category during the inaugural awards presentation:  “Best Country and Western Performance.”  That award went to the Kingston Trio and their recording of “Tom Dooley.”

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Tom Dooley” was a crossover hit prior to winning the Grammy.  The murder ballad topped the Billboard Hot 100 for one week in November 1958, knocking off Conway Twitty’s “It’s Only Make Believe” (Twitty’s only #1 pop single).  The single also reached the Cashbox Country Top 20 and even charted on the Billboard R&B survey.  Since then, the song has been honored by many different organizations.  The National Endowment for the Arts and the Recording Industry Association of America included “Tom Dooley” in its list of the 365 songs of the 20th Century.  The track has also been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

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