"58 years ago today: The Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., became the site of the first Grammy Awards ceremony, held on May 4, 1959. Domenico Modugno's beautiful "Nel Blu Dipinto Blu (Volare)" won the "record of the year" category, in which Perry Como's "Catch A Falling Star," Peggy Lee's "Fever," Frank Sinatra's "Witchcraft" and David Seville's "The Chipmunk Song" were nominated. Henry Mancini's "The Music From Peter Gunn" won the "album of the year" award, topping pop performances by Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald and a classical recording by pianist Van Cliburn. Ella Fitzgerald was honored with the "best vocal performance by a female" award for her "Irving Berlin Songbook" album, while Perry Como won in the "best male vocal category" for "Catch a Falling Star." Keely Smith and Louis Prima's "That Old Black Magic" was named "best performance by a vocal group." The Champs' Latin-flavored "Tequila" won an award — curiously, for best rhythm and blues performance. And the Kingston Trio's "Tom Dooley" was named "best country and western performance" in the absence of a folk music category. The Kingston Trio also would have been a logical choice for "best new artist," but that category was not introduced until the following year."
Along the same line, the American Folklife Center (big stuff in trad music) used the anniversary to promote some of their info on "Tom Dooley," with some rare acknowledgement from the traditional community of the KT. The FaceBook posting read -
""Hang down your head, Tom Dooley...." On May 4, 1959, The Kingston Trio scored a Grammy for Country and Western Performance for their runaway hit, the North Carolina murder ballad "Tom Dooley." Hear the original field recording by Frank Proffitt at the link:
The Kingston Trio learned the song from John and Alan Lomax's book "Our Singing Country," which included a transcription of the recording at the link above; it was collected by Frank and Anne Warner from Frank Proffitt in North Carolina. The photo, which is by Frank Warner, shows Anne Warner adjusting the microphone to collect from Proffitt in 1941.
The 1959 event was the very first GRAMMY awards, given out at simultaneous galas held in New York and Los Angeles, for recordings released during the calendar year 1958. The award placed the Kingston Trio among such winners as Frank Sinatra, Henry Mancini, and Ella Fitzgerald, and Proffitt's song, one of AFC's archival treasures, among pop classics such as "Volare," "Tequila," and "Music from Peter Gunn.""
An earlier posting from the same group on the same thread credited the Trio with starting the popular music aspect of the folk revival, which was another pleasant and unusual compliment.