When the Grammys are handed out on Feb. 12, look for Adele to tie Beyonce's record for most Grammys won by a female artist in one night. Beyonce won six awards, including Song of the Year for "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)," three years ago. Adele is the front-runner in all six categories in which she is nominated.
Adele's classy smash "Rolling In The Deep" is a cinch to win for Record and Song of the Year. It will probably also win for Best Short Form Music Video. Her blockbuster album 21 is a lock to win for Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album. And her torch ballad "Someone Like You" is a heavy favorite to win for Best Pop Solo Performance.
If Adele wins all six awards, she'll also tie Eric Clapton's record for most Grammys won by a British artist in one night. Clapton won six awards, including Record and Song of the Year for "Tears In Heaven," in 1993. But that probably won't get as much media attention as tying Beyonce's record because it's not as sexy.
Michael Jackson set the overall record for most Grammys won in one night in 1984, when he won eight awards. That edged the old mark of seven, set by Paul Simon in 1971. Santana tied Jackson's record in 2000.
There have been 31 cases where someone has won five or more Grammys in one night. Here's a list of everybody who has ever done this. Artists who won the same number of awards are listed chronologically, by the year in which they had their sweeps. On every reference, the year refers to the year the awards were presented.
Michael Jackson, 8. Jackson won eight awards in 1984. That set a new record, breaking Paul Simon's mark of seven. Jackson's sweep included Record of the Year for "Beat It" and Album of the Year for Thriller. Jackson and Quincy Jones shared the award for Producer of the Year. Seven of Jackson's awards were for Thriller. The eighth was for Best Recording For Children for E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. Which means if Jackson hadn't taken on that outside assignment, he would have merely tied Simon's record, not broken it.
Santana, 8. The band won eight awards in 2000, which tied Jackson's record. The band's bounty included Record of the Year for "Smooth" (featuring Rob Thomas) and Album of the Year for Supernatural.
Paul Simon, 7. Simon won seven awards in 1971. That was the biggest sweep to that point, breaking Roger Miller's record of six. Simon won Album, Record and Song of the Year, all for Bridge Over Troubled Water and its classic title track. Simon won five awards with his partner Art Garfunkel, and also won two awards for the song, which he wrote by himself.
Roger Miller, 6. The country singer/songwriter won six awards in 1966. That was the biggest sweep to that point, breaking Henry Mancini's record of five. It remains the biggest sweep for a country artist. Miller was the first artist to win five or more awards more than once. The awards were mostly for his laid-back country classic "King Of The Road." Four of them came in the "Country & Western" field, as it was then called. The other two were for "Contemporary (R&R)." "R&R" stands for rock and roll, which "King Of The Road" most decidedly wasn't. But it's a great record.
Quincy Jones, 6. The producer won six awards in 1991, including Album of the Year for Back On The Block. He also won Producer of the Year and two awards for arrangements.
Eric Clapton, 6. Clapton won six awards in 1993, which is the record for a British artist. (Adele is in a position to equal it. ) His sweep included Record and Song of the Year for the heartfelt "Tears In Heaven" and Album of the Year for Unplugged. One of Clapton's awards was for his 1970s classic "Layla," which was voted Best Rock Song (after he re-recorded it on Unplugged). An already-known song wouldn't be eligible under current rules.
Beyonce, 6. Beyonce won six awards in 2010, including Song of the Year for the exuberant "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)." (She is the only woman in Grammy history to win five or more awards more than once.) Five of the awards were for her album I Am…Sasha Fierce. The sixth was for a remake of Etta James' "At Last," which she recorded for the movie Cadillac Records. Which means if she hadn't taken on that assignment, she would have merely tied the record for a female solo artist, not set a new one. As you can see, it pays to do outside projects.
Henry Mancini, 5. The peerless composer and arranger won five awards in 1962. That was the biggest sweep to that point. His awards included Record and Song of the Year for the gorgeous "Moon River" from the movie Breakfast At Tiffany's. By 1971, Mancini had amassed 20 Grammys, which for many years constituted the record for most career wins.
Roger Miller, 5. Miller won five awards in 1965, all in the "Country & Western" field. The awards were mostly for his light-hearted hit "Dang Me." One of the awards was for Best New Country & Western Artist of 1964. Miller was lucky there was such a category that year. He wouldn't have stood a chance against that year's overall winner for Best New Artist: the Beatles. (And if Miller had managed to win, the academy would never have lived it down.)
Stevie Wonder, 5. Wonder won five awards in 1974, including Album of the Year for Innervisions. Three of the awards were for classic singles from his previous album, Talking Book. Those songs? "You Are The Sunshine Of My Life" and "Superstition."
Stevie Wonder, 5. Wonder won five more awards in 1975, including Album of the Year for Fulfillingness' First Finale. One of the awards was for "Living For The City," a socially-conscious song from Innervisions. (It was released as a single in this eligibility year.)
Stevie Wonder, 5. Wonder won five more awards in 1977, including Album of the Year for Songs In The Key Of Life. He also won Producer of the Year. Wonder is the only person in Grammy history to win five or more awards on three separate nights.
Bee Gees, 5. The brother trio won five awards in 1979, including Album of the Year for the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. They also won Producer of the Year (along with their colleagues Albhy Galuten and Karl Richardson).
Christopher Cross, 5. The singer-songwriter won five awards in 1981, including Record and Song of the Year for the hypnotic "Sailing" and Album of the Year for Christopher Cross. He also won Best New Artist. He's the only artist to take all four of those awards in one night. The sweep created expectations that no one could live up to. He would have been better off just winning Best New Artist.
Quincy Jones, 5. The legendary artist and producer won five awards in 1982, including Producer of the Year. He won four of the awards for his hit album The Dude. He won the fifth for producing Lena Horne's The Lady And Her Music, which was voted Best Cast Show Album.
David Paich, 5. The leader of Toto won five awards in 1983, including Record of the Year for the sleek "Rosanna" and Album of the Year for Toto IV. The group also won for Producer of the Year. (Paich won two additional awards for arranging "Rosanna.") This was sweet vindication for Toto, which had lost Best New Artist four years before to A Taste Of Honey, best known for the disco smash "Boogie Oogie Oogie."
Lauryn Hill, 5. The former member of Fugees won five awards in 1999. She was the first female artist to win five awards in one night. Hill's bounty included Album of the Year for her first solo album, The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill. Hill's album was slotted in the R&B field, rather than rap, which was a sign of the mainstreaming of hip-hop. Hill won Best New Artist, even though she had won two Grammys with Fugees. (The rules have been changed so that such a thing couldn't happen again.)
Alicia Keys, 5. The R&B star won five awards in 2002, including Song of the Year for "Fallin.'" She also won Best New Artist.
Jay Newland, 5. The producer and recording engineer won five awards in 2003. He picked up four of them for co-producing and co-engineering Norah Jones' Come Away With Me. He won the fifth for his work on an album by Herbie Hancock, Michael Brecker and Roy Hargrove.
Beyonce, 5. The star won five awards in 2004, all for her first solo album, Dangerously In Love and its mega hit "Crazy In Love," featuring her future husband, Jay-Z.
Ray Charles, 5. The R&B legend won five awards in 2005, eight months after his death. It was the biggest posthumous sweep in Grammy history. Charles' awards included Record of the Year for "Here We Go Again" (with Norah Jones) and Album of the Year for Genius Loves Company. (He should have won the latter award in 1963 for the genre-bridging Modern Sounds In Country And Western Music, but the award went to Vaughn Monroe's JFK-themed comedy album The First Family. Better late than never, I guess.)
Al Schmitt, 5. The engineer won five awards in 2005 for his work on Ray Charles' Genius Loves Company.
U2, 5. The Irish band won five awards in 2006, including Song of the Year for "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own" and Album of the Year for How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb.
Gregg DeGuire/WireImageDixie Chicks, 5. The country trio won five awards in 2007, more than any other country group or duo to that point. Their awards included Record and Song of the Year for "Not Ready To Make Nice" and Album of the Year for Taking The Long Way. The sweep was seen as an endorsement of freedom of speech, after the trio suffered a backlash after lead singer Natalie Maines made harsh comments about President Bush.
Rick Rubin, 5. The producer won five awards in 2007 for his work on Dixie Chicks' Taking The Long Way and Red Hot Chili Peppers' Stadium Arcadium. The range of those projects explains why he won as Producer of the Year.
Amy Winehouse, 5. The brilliant and troubled artist won five awards in 2008, including Record and Song of the Year for "Rehab." She also won Best New Artist, but didn't live to complete a proper follow-up album.
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, 5. The unlikely pair won five awards in 2009, including Record of the Year for "Please Read The Letter" and Album of the Year for Raising Sand. That's the biggest haul in one night for a collaboration by two artists who don't normally record together.
Lady Antebellum, 5. The country trio won five awards last year, matching Dixie Chicks for the most awards in one night by a country group or duo. Their awards included Record and Song of the Year for "Need You Now."
The Fine Print: Sixteen of these sweeps have occurred since 1999, which is largely a reflection of the steadily-increasing number of award categories. In 1971, the year that Paul Simon won seven awards, there were 43 Grammy categories. In 1984, when Michael Jackson won eight awards, there were 67 categories. In 2000, when Santana tied Jackson's record, there were 98. Last year, there were 109. This year, the academy cut 31 categories, bringing the tally down to a more reasonable 78.
With the reduction in the number of categories, it's probably going to be harder for acts to amass as many Grammys in one night going forward. In the case of Beyonce's sweep, I still think she would have won six awards even if the new awards structure had been in place then. There has been consolidation in three of the categories she won, but she was so strong that year I'm confident that she would have still come out on top.
From 1966 to 1981, artists who also produced their records could win two awards for Album of the Year and also for Record of the Year. That helped boost Paul Simon's total in 1971.