The Recording Academy announced Wednesday its Special Merit Awards recipients, including Lifetime Achievement Award honors for Black Sabbath, George Clinton & Parliament-Funkadelic, Billy Eckstine, Donny Hathaway, Julio Iglesias, Sam & Dave, and Dionne Warwick.
Trustee Award honorees are music impresario Lou Adler, who guided the careers of the Mamas And The Papas, Carole King and Cheech & Chong, among others; the husband-and-wife songwriting/recording duo Ashford & Simpson; and composer, arranger and jazz musician Johnny Mandel, whose credits include playing in the bands of Jimmy Dorsey and Count Basie and composing the “M*A*S*H” theme “Suicide Is Painless.”
Audio innovator Saul Walker, who died in 2016, is the Technical Grammy Award recipient. From his early work in rocket telemetry to founding API in 1969, his console designs continue to influence the music recording industry, according to the Academy.
An award presentation ceremony and concert celebrating the honorees will be held on May 11 in Los Angeles.
“Each year, the Recording Academy has the distinct privilege of celebrating music industry giants who have greatly contributed to our cultural heritage,” said Neil Portnow, president/CEO of the Recording Academy. “This year, we have a gifted and brilliant group of honorees and their exceptional accomplishments, contributions, and artistry will continue to influence and inspire generations to come.”
The Lifetime Achievement Award goes to performers who have made outstanding contributions of artistic significance to the field of recording, while the Trustees Award honors such contributions in areas other than performance. The Recording Academy’s National Board of Trustees determines the honorees of both awards.
Black Sabbath “arguably invented the heavy metal signposts and influenced every heavy rock band that followed,” according to the Academy, while George Clinton & Parliament-Funkadelic’s “spacey and masterfully played funk has laid the foundation for countless hip-hop hits.”
The Academy said Eckstine, who died in 1993, “helped break ground for African-American artists in the ’40s and ’50s as a distinctive jazz singer and bandleader who crossed over to an equally dazzling career in pop,” and called Hathaway, who died in 1979, “a versatile soul stylist who built his legend singing both urban protest songs as well as smooth, signature duets with the likes of Roberta Flack, despite his far-too-short career.”
Iglesias was hailed as “perhaps the most successful Latin crossover artist of his time” who “became an enduring star on the world stage and Latin music’s most popular ambassador of his era.”
Soul duo Sam & Dave (Sam Moore and the late Dave Prater) were one of the primary chart stars at the Stax and Atlantic labels in the ’60s, and the late Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson were among the elite songwriting teams at Motown Records, penning modern classics such as “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “You’re All I Need To Get By.”
Warwick is being recognized for having “carved out a unique and stellar career among pop/soul singers” in a career that began with singing the songs of Burt Bacharach and Hal David in the ’60s, followed by hits that bridged pop and R&B in the ’70s and ’80s.