Diana Ross NEVER Won a Competitive Grammy? How?

Every year around Grammys time, a list circulates of top stars who have never managed to win a competitive Grammy — and it is topped by the great Diana Ross, who just turned 78. (Not 96, as some Jeopardy! nerds mistakenly believed.)

She deserves Grammys — all over her body of work. (Image via Capitol)

Queen and Snoop Dogg are just a couple of the other Grammy-less legends — meaning they and Diana have fewer Grammys than Bradley Cooper (who has two!).

So how did one of music's greats never win, in spite of 12 solo and group (the Supremes) and duo nominations?

First, she only received 12 nominations from 1965-1983 (her last-ever nomination). By contrast, thanks to the rapidly expanding number of Grammy categories, Jon Batiste received 11 — just in 2022 alone. Diana had two nominations in a single year just one time.

Second, the Grammys in the past were pretty tough on popular artists, and so the Supremes — one of the most popular, influential and gifted vocal groups ever — were nominated just two times!

Third, when she did get nominated, flipping back and forth between R&B and pop categories, she sometimes had the bad luck to be up against mammoth, career-defining songs. And remember, she was duking it out with Aretha Franklin and Roberta Flack in her heyday!

Fourth, she got screwed. As you'll see, she definitely should've triumphed once or twice.

For her troubles, Ross was handed a Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 2012.

Here were her 12 nominations:

7th Annual Grammys (April 13, 1965)

Best Rhythm & Blues Recording

Sam Cooke, "Good Times"

The Impressions, "Keep on Pushing"

The Supremes, "Baby Love"

Joe Tex, "Hold What You've Got"

Nancy Wilson, "(You Don't Know) How Glad I Am" WINNER

8th Annual Grammys (March 15, 1966)

Best Contemporary (R&R) Performance - Group (Vocal or Instrumental)

The Beatles, "Help"

Herman's Hermits, "Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter"

Sam the Sham & The Pharaohs, "Wooly Bully"

The Statler Brothers, "Flowers on the Wall" WINNER

"Stop in the Name of Love," The Supremes

13th Annual Grammys (March 16, 1971)

Best Contemporary Vocal Performance, Female

Bobbie Gentry, "Fancy"

Anne Murray, "Snowbird"

Linda Ronstadt, "Long Long Time"

Diana Ross, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough"

"I'll Never Fall in Love Again," Dionne Warwick WINNER

14th Annual Grammys (March 14, 1972)

Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female

Aretha Franklin, "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" WINNER

Janis Joplin, "Pearl"

Jean Knight, "Mr. Big Stuff"

Freda Payne, "Contact"

Diana Ross, "I Love You (Call Me)"

16th Annual Grammys (March 2, 1974)

Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female

Roberta Flack, "Killing Me Softly with His Song" WINNER

Bette Midler, "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy"

Anne Murray, "Danny's Song"

Diana Ross, "Touch Me in the Morning"

Carly Simon, "You're So Vain"

19th Annual Grammys (February 19, 1977)

Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female

Natalie Cole, "Sophisticated Lady (She's a Different Lady)" WINNER

Aretha Franklin, "Something He Can Feel"

Dorothy Moore, "Misty Blue"

Melba Moore, "Lean on Me"

Diana Ross, "Love Hangover"

20th Annual Grammys (February 23, 1978)

Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female

Natalie Cole, "I've Got Love on My Mind"

Aretha Franklin, "Break It to Me Gently"

Thelma Houston, "Don't Leave Me This Way" WINNER

Dorothy Moore, "I Believe You"

Diana Ross, "Your Love Is So Good for Me"

21st Annual Grammys (February 15, 1979)

Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group or Chorus

The Commodores, "Natural High"

Earth, Wind & Fire, "All 'n' All" WINNER

The O'Jays, "Use ta Be My Girl"

Diana Ross & Michael Jackson "Ease on Down the Road"

A Taste of Honey, "Boogie Oogie Oogie"

23rd Annual Grammys (February 25, 1981)

Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female

Roberta Flack, album Roberta Flack Featuring Donny Hathaway

Aretha Franklin, "Can't Turn You Loose"

Stephanie Mills, "Never Knew Love Like This Before" WINNER

Minnie Riperton, "Love Lives Forever"

Diana Ross, "Upside Down"

24th Annual Grammys (February 24, 1982)

Record of the Year

Kim Carnes, "Bette Davis Eyes" WINNER

Christopher Cross, "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)"

John Lennon, "(Just Like) Starting Over"

Diana Ross & Lionel Richie, "Endless Love"

Bill Withers & Grover Washington Jr., "Just the Two of Us"

24th Annual Grammys (February 24, 1982)

Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal

Hall & Oates, "Private Eyes"

Manhattan Transfer, "Boy from New York City" WINNER

The Pointer Sisters, "Slow Hand"

Diana Ross & Lionel Richie, "Endless Love"

Steely Dan, "Gaucho"

25th Annual Grammys (February 23, 1983)

Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female

Aretha Franklin, "Jump to It"

Jennifer Holliday, "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" WINNER

Diana Ross, "Muscles"

Patrice Rushen, "Forget Me Nots"

Deniece Williams, "It's Gonna Take a Miracle"

So ... there you have it. All 12 swatted down. Incredible that one of the greatest duets of all time, "Endless Love," couldn't even score an award here.

I'm also surprised her 1984 song "Missing You" — an indelible Marvin Gaye tribute — failed to score her at least a nomination, but it was a year that saw nominations for Cyndi Lauper, Tina Turner, Deniece Williams, Sheila E. and Sheena Easton, all, arguably, for their signature singles.

At least Diana was awarded a Grammy in 2012, but I think, because of all of the above, it is unfair to compare Diana Ross — or arguably any pre-2000 artist — with post-2000 artists when it comes to Grammy Awards. Attitudes have simply changed too much at the Grammys.

3 Responses

  1. Okay, she never got a Grammy, but remember-
    she wakes up every morning knowing she’s Diana Ross.

  2. Jay

    Gosh. It’s hard to believe “Boy From New York City” won a Grammy! “Endless Love” def should have wont that year. And one could look at “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” as kind of slapback from Florence Ballard.

    • Matthew Rettenmund

      Oh! Good call on “And I’m”!

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