It’s a well-known fact that the Grammy Awards ceremony is conventionally considered the walloping night in the music industry. The winners walk away with pride for being honored with a gilded gramophone statuette. Have you ever wondered who crafts the statuette for the Grammys? How are they produced? How much time is consumed in the crafting? Well, here goes the article speaking about the details of the Gramophone Trophy. It all started in 1959, when National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences decided to present awards to the artists for their ‘number one’ performance in the music industry. Billings Artworks in Ridgway manufactures the trophy. Grammy trophies are put together by hand. At the outset trophies were made of too soft metal and small; hence resulted in breaking of trophies. Therefore the trophies were altered in their size and appearance.
John Billings has many Grammys, but has won not even one! To clue in it’s not funny as it sounds. John Billings is the owner of the company that manufactures the actual award trophies. John is also affectionately addressed as “Grammy Dude”. John himself crafts the trophies with his son ‘Little John’, his brother Don, and longtime friend, Jim Spear. John loves his work, specially crafting awards which are presented for the excellence in music industry. The process involved in making the trophy is complicated and time consuming. Each horn is made up of spun brass; each cabinet, base cast and tone arm is made from grammium (custom alloy).
The making of trophies also includes many hours of filing, grinding, buffing, polishing and of course sweats! Finally we get to see the eye-catching gold plating replica of the gramophone. The trophies which are used for the broadcasting are called “stunt” Grammys. John adds, “We are not a factory. Here is where we put our hearts and souls into what we do,” “We’re still doing things the old way.” John is the second individual to have acquired the exclusive right to make a Grammy trophy. The master mold-maker of the original Grammy was Bob Graves. As Bob health was deteriorating, John was proposed to be his apprentice. After Bob’s death in 1983, John acquired the business from Mary (Bob’s widow). The attractive trophy which we currently see on the show was redesigned by John. The year 2006 was significant, as it marked thirty years of Grammy making for John. In addition to Grammy trophies, John crafts the “John Wooden Award” for the NCAA Player of the Year in collegiate basketball, and the “Annie Award”, honoring the best in the world of animation. The trophies seen on the television are actually ‘stunt’ trophies.
The ‘original’ trophies remain in John’s studio, as the winners are not revealed till the opening of the envelopes. Those brass plates are engraved with the names and delivered to the Academy personally by John. The tradition is expected to be handed down to his son, ‘Little John’ and later it might be passed over to his grandson ‘Jakob’. ‘Little John’ has already spent two decades with John in the making business of the Grammy trophies. As of 2007, it is recorded that 7,578 Grammy trophies have been presented.