Script written by Michael Wynands
Top 10 Biggest Grammy Award Sweeps
These artists sure made an impact. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Biggest Grammy Award Sweeps.
For this list, we’re looking at musical artists and acts that earned the most awards in a single night at the Grammy Awards. Since there are many ties, we’ll be taking into account the influence of these artists, the total number of Grammys they’ve won over the years, as well as the cultural impact of the specific release with which they swept in a given year.
#10: U2 (2006)
We begin with a band that requires very little introduction, the Irish rockers from Dublin, U2. Formed in 1976, this group really became icons with the release of their 1987 album, The Joshua Tree. While so many of their peers were content to sit back and coast on their past successes, U2 continued to innovate into the new millennium. For their efforts they were greatly rewarded when 2004’s How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb scored them wins at two Grammy Awards back to back. In 2005, the album’s lead single, “Vertigo,” earned three Grammys, and in 2006, the album and its various singles earned them another 5. Rock icons indeed!
#9: Roger Miller (1966)
He might not be a household name nowadays, but you can bet that this artist was on everybody’s lips in the 1960s. Roger Miller was a country singer from Fort Worth, Texas whose hard-partying lifestyle earned him the nickname “Wild Child;” it also cost him his record deal in 1963. It could have been the end of Miller’s story, but a throwaway record to fund his nascent acting career actually resulted in two big hits, Dang Me and Chug-A-Lug - earning him 5 wins at the 1965 Grammys. Miller had made it, but he still had more to offer, and in 1966 he outdid himself with a whopping 6 Grammys.
#8: Bruno Mars (2018)
This singer, songwriter, dancer, multi-instrumentalist and producer is a testament to what can be achieved with talent and perseverance. As a child, the Honolulu native performed in a family band and was known for his Elvis impersonations. At 17, he moved to Los Angeles after A&R at Aftermath Entertainment showed interest in his demo, but nothing came of it. He signed to Motown, only to be dropped a year later. Bruno Mars persevered, eventually breaking through as a songwriter and hook-man. Flash forward to 2018, and he’s taken center at the Grammys when his album 24K Magic earned him 6 Grammys, including the coveted awards of record, album and song of the year.
#7: Paul Simon (1971)
As one half of Simon and Garfunkel, Paul Simon became an icon of folk rock and the 1960s counterculture. Later, as a solo artist, Simon would show the world that he was a musical innovator and songwriter that refused to fit into a box. Though his legacy extends well beyond his time with Art Garfunkel, there’s no denying that Paul Simon’s greatest success at the Grammys came as part of the legendary duo. Their Bridge Over Troubled Water album and song were awarded 6 Grammys in 1971. This came just two years after they claimed 3 Grammys for their Mrs. Robinson and their work on “The Graduate.”
#6: Adele (2012)
Few artists have managed to take the music world by storm with quite as much impact as this impossibly talented English singer-songwriter. With 21 (arguably the greatest breakup album ever written), Adele reached out and connected with millions upon millions of listeners. Apparently the voting members of the Recording Academy were among them, as they sent the star home with 6 Grammys for her troubles, including (like Bruno Mars) the holy trinity of record, song and album of the year in 2012. Adele set the bar impossibly high for herself, but with her follow-up album, 25, she similarly swept the 2017 Grammys with 5 wins.
#5: Eric Clapton (1993)
Eric Clapton is truly one of a kind. There is no other artist to date who has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on three (yes, THREE) separate occasions. Clapton did it as a solo artist and as member of both Cream and The Yardbirds. Over the years, the Recording Academy has recognized his musical accomplishments with a staggering 18 Grammys. One third of those were taken home on a single night in 1993 at the 35th Annual Grammy Awards. The album as whole, Unplugged, earned him two Grammys and Layla another, while his heartbreaking response to the death of his son, Tears in Heaven, earned him three more.
#4: Beyoncé (2010)
Sasha Fierce, JuJu, Mrs. Carter, Moth, Queen Bee - she goes by many names, but there is only one Beyoncé and she reigns supreme. With 22 Grammys under her belt, in terms of total wins by female artists, Queen Bey is second only to bluegrass-country singer Alison Krauss. While Krauss won 5 Grammys in 2009 alongside Robert Plant for the album Raising Sand, Beyoncé has her beat with the 6 Grammys she took home the next year in 2010 for the album I Am ... Sasha Fierce. At the time, she was the first and only woman to win that many Grammys in a single night. This was after having already won 5 back in 2004. All hail to the Queen!
#3: Quincy Jones (1991)
Record producers rarely get the credit they earn, but every now and then a producer comes along so influential and talented that they ascend to stardom in their own right. Quincy Jones is a living legend, and his legacy is well-deserved. In the 1950s he was a conductor and arranger of jazz music. He would go on to compose for film, produce groundbreaking pop albums and smash racial barriers at the Academy Awards. The man has a record 79 Grammy nominations to his name and a whopping 27 wins. In 1991, he took home 6 Grammys in a single night for his 1989 album Back on the Block. Q is truly one of a kind.
#2: Santana (2000)
Santana, named for its guitarist and frontman Carlos Santana, was first formed in 1966. Ask anyone in the ‘80s and early ‘90s, and they would have told you that the band’s peak popularity had long since came and gone. Many a musical act would have accepted their fate and faded into obscurity, but instead, Santana rose like a Phoenix with their 1999 album, Supernatural, ascending to heights no one could have predicted - let alone from a group that had fallen into commercial obscurity as they had. The star-studded Supernatural became one of the best-selling albums of all time, and earned Santana 8 Grammys at the 2000 awards. They remain the only musical group to ever do so.
Before we reveal the identity of our top pick, here are some honorable mentions:
Alicia Keys (2002)
Alison Krauss (2009)
Ray Charles (2005)
#1: Michael Jackson (1984)
He was the King of Pop, and the enduring legacy he left behind ensures that he will never be forgotten. The Guinness Book of World Records calls him the "Most Successful Entertainer of All Time". In addition to a Grammy Legend Award and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, Michael Jackson earned 38 Grammy nominations and 13 wins. 8 of those awards were won in a single fateful evening in 1984. It was the year of Thriller, and armed with hits like Beat It, The Girl is Mine, and Billie Jean, he moonwalked into history, winning more Grammy Awards in a single night than any other individual artist.