The Recording Academy will bestow lifetime achievement awards upon Joan Baez, Booker T. & the MG’s, Ornette Coleman, the Doors, the Grateful Dead and the late Maria Callas and Bob Wills during next year’s Grammy week.
Trustees Awards will be given to Stax Records co-founder Estelle Axton, New Orleans producer-studio owner Cosimo Matassa and Stephen Sondheim. The late David M. Smith, who was VP of audio technical engineering at Sony Music Studios, and Yamaha Corp. have been named recipients of the Technical Grammy Award.
Formal acknowledgment of the special merit awards will be made at an invitation-only event prior to the Feb. 11 Grammy Awards ceremony.
Curiously, the Academy has chosen to honor all five members of Booker T. & the MG’s — Booker T. Jones, Steve Cropper, Al Jackson Jr., Donald “Duck” Dunn and the original bassist, Lewis Steinberg, who left after making one album — but only the members of the Dead who were with the band for most of its 30-year existence. The Academy has chosen not include any of the keyboardists in the group, which means the late Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, a founding member of the band with Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh and Bill Kreutzmann, will not receive individual recognition. The name of lyricist Robert Hunter is also being left off.
While the lifetime achievement nod is self-explanatory, the Trustees Award recognizes contributions to the industry in a nonperforming capacity. Both awards are decided by vote of the Recording Academy’s National Board of Trustees. Technical Grammy Award recipients are determined by the Academy’s Producers & Engineers Wing members and the Academy’s Trustees.
Saxophonist Coleman, who at 76 has just received his first Grammy nom — in the jazz instrumental album category — said in a statement, “It’s a great achievement for those who play improvised music to be recognized by the Grammy committee. I am very honored.”