Vegas at the Grammys: Local winners and nominees

Imagine Dragons performed a homecoming set on the Downtown stage during LIB Day 1.
Photo: Fred Morledge

Locals Imagine Dragons made headlines this with week with two Grammy nods for their hit song "Radioactive," but they’re hardly the first act to represent Las Vegas at the awards. It turns out the rockers are just the latest in the legacy of Las Vegans to be recognized by the Recording Academy, and the past honorees just might surprise you:

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      The Crystal Method

      DJs may dominate Vegas nightlife today, but Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland were playing electronic dance music in local clubs before most of today’s clubgoers were even born (Jordan also served as the college radio program director at UNLV). They eventually relocated to L.A. and formed the Crystal Method in 1993, going on to produce a slate of hit albums. 2004’s Legion of Boom picked up a Grammy nod for Best Electronic/Dance Album in the category’s first year of existence, with their fourth record, Divided By Night, nominated in the same category in 2009.

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      The Killers

      Its been a bittersweet run for Las Vegas’ reigning hometown heroes at the Grammys. The band has been nominated a total of seven times since 2005, for categories including Best Rock Album (Hot Fuss) and Best Rock Song (“Somebody Told Me,” “When You Were Young”), though they still have yet to win.

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      Panic! At The Disco

      We’ll admit, this one makes the list on a bit of a technicality. The band picked up a nomination in 2008 for Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package for that year’s Pretty. Odd..

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      Citing the Rat Pack as creative influences during his formative years in Las Vegas, crooner Ne-Yo has racked up so many awards and nominations at this point that there’s actually a separate Wikipedia page for them. He has 13 Grammy nods to date, with three wins: Best Contemporary R&B Album for 2008’s Because Of You and Best R&B Song and Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for 2009’s “Miss Independent.”

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      Toni Basil

      Well before Antonia “Toni” Basil was leading chants and claps in her ubiquitous 1981 hit “Mickey,” she was doing them for the Wildcats at Las Vegas High School (she’s wearing her old uniform in the video. Fun fact: She was 38 at the time). In 1983, the singer picked up a Grammy nomination for Best Long Form Video for the video album accompanying her debut record Word Of Mouth. Though often written off as a one-hit wonder, Basil has gone on to have a successful career as a choreographer, working with artists including Talking Heads, David Bowie, Tina Turner and Bette Midler and picking up an Emmy award in 2007 for her choreography in the commercial “MC Hammer: My Braves.”

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      Eric Whitacre

      Vegas-bred musical talent goes beyond pop and rock. Though Reno-born composer and conductor Eric Whitacre couldn’t read music when he began his undergrad music studies at UNLV, he learned well: Whitacre won a Best Choral Performance Grammy last year for his album Light and Gold and was nominated in the same category in 2007 for his album Cloudburst and Other Choral Works. In addition to composing, he’s also become known for his TED presentations and “Virtual Choir” projects, which bring together thousands of individual voices from across the world in an online choir.

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      Ron Aniello

      Enjoy Bruce Springsteen’s Wrecking Ball? You have Vegas-born producer Ron Aniello to thank for that -- not to mention a dozen other hit records over the past decade. The rock veteran has helmed production for acts ranging from Lifehouse to Barenaked Ladies to Guster to Patti Scialfa, picking up a Grammy nod in 2010 for his work on Jars of Clay’s The Long Fall Back to Earth.

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      Las Vegas Academy and Green Valley High School

      They may not be artists, but the Recording Academy has seen fit to honor both LVA and Green Valley High School for their work in music education. The schools are among 18 public high schools across the country selected as Grammy Signature Schools, recognizing their commitment to music education during the academic year. GVHS and LVA were two of five schools last year to pick up the prestigious Gold Awards, which comes with a $5,000 grant. LVA has received 10 Gold Grammys to date, more than any other high school in the U.S.

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    Andrea Domanick

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