While it had been around for almost 20 years and a commercial force to be reckoned with for the past six, Hard rock and metal was finally recognized as it’s standalone category in 1988. Metallica, who’d just released …And Justice For All, actually got a chance to play the Grammys, which was pretty much seen as a lock. That album had been nominated, along with AC/DC’s Blow Up Your Video, Jane’s Addiction’s Nothing’s Shocking, the song “Cold Metal” by Iggy Pop, and Jethro Tull’s Crest of a Knave. The band played a blistering version of “One” on the awards in February of 1989, then… lost to Tull. The ’70s prog-rock band, best known for lead singer Ian Anderson’s flute solos, were surprised to have won. Nowhere near as surprised as everyone else, however.
It was viewed as a travesty by many outside of the metal community as well, and the following year, the Grammys set up two separate categories, one for hard rock and one for metal. And to prove that they were really good at overcompensating, for the next three years, Metallica won. In 1990, they were nominated for “One, ” the song they’d played the prior year. They then won in 1991 for their cover of “Stone Cold Crazy,” and again in 1992, for the Black Album. They’ve won three more times since, with songs from ReLoad, St. Anger and Death Magnetic, meaning that over 1/3rd of the Best Metal Performance Grammys have been won by Metallica.