Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance

Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance
Awarded forQuality instrumental rock performances
CountryUnited States
Presented byNational Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences
First awarded1980
Last awarded2011
Currently held byJeff Beck, "Hammerhead" (

The Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance was an honor presented to recording artists for quality instrumental rock performances at the Grammy Awards, a ceremony that was established in 1958 and originally called the Gramophone Awards.[1] Honors in several categories are presented at the ceremony annually by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to "honor artistic achievement, technical proficiency and overall excellence in the recording industry, without regard to album sales or chart position".[2]

The award was first presented at the 22nd Grammy Awards in 1980 to Paul McCartney and the band Wings for "Rockestra Theme". From 1986 to 1989, the category was known as Best Rock Instrumental Performance (Orchestra, Group or Soloist). According to the category description guide for the 52nd Grammy Awards, the award is presented to artists "for newly recorded rock, hard rock or metal instrumental performances".[3]

As of 2011, Jeff Beck holds the records for the most wins, with six. Sting has received three awards, twice as a member of The Police -- although he had no part in the band's "Behind My Camel", the 1982 award winner which he did not write and refused to play on[4].

Two-time recipients include Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana (once as a member of the band Santana), The Flaming Lips, Steve Vai, and brothers Jimmie Vaughan and Stevie Ray Vaughan (each once as part of the duo Vaughan Brothers). At the 51st Grammy Awards (2009), the tribute act Zappa Plays Zappa (led by Dweezil Zappa, son of Frank Zappa) earned an award for their performance of Frank's instrumental song "Peaches en Regalia".[5] Dweezil and Frank have both received multiple nominations and even competed against one another in 1988. Joe Satriani holds the record for the most nominations (as well as the record for the most nominations without a win), with fourteen.

The award was discontinued before the 2012 awards due to a major overhaul of Grammy categories. All instrumental performances in the rock category were shifted to either the newly formed Best Rock Performance or Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance categories.


A man in the forefront is playing an acoustic guitar and singing into a microphone stand; a woman is behind microphone stand in the background.
Paul McCartney with fellow Wings member Linda McCartney in 1976
A man in a white shirt standing behind a microphone stand and holding a guitar
Three-time award recipient Sting (twice as a member of The Police) performing in 2007
Five men performing on a stage; two are standing behind microphone stands and holding guitars, one is holding a microphone, one is standing behind a keyboard set, and the one furthest back on the stage is sitting behind a drum kit. Lights shine down from above, illuminating a multi-colored stage with geometric shapes.
Members of the 1985 award-winning band Yes performing in 1977
A man wearing a sleeveless white shirt holding a white guitar
Six-time award winner Jeff Beck performing in Sydney, Australia in 2009
Black and white image of a man with shoulder-length hair and facial hair.
1988 award recipient Frank Zappa in 1977
A man wearing a green shirt and hat, looking down and playing a guitar.
Two-time award winner Carlos Santana (once as the leader of the band Santana) performing in 2000
Head shot of a man wearing a brown-striped shirt
Eric Johnson, 1992 award winner, in 2007
A man wearing black clothing and a chain necklace, holding an electric guitar
Two-time award winner Steve Vai in 2005
A man on a stage wearing blue jeans, a black shirt and eyeglasses. He is holding a black guitar, and part of a drum set and other audio and stage equipment can be seen in the background.
Two-time award recipient Eric Clapton performing in 2008
A man standing behind a microphone stand; a blue light is shining on him and a colorful, picturesque effect appears in the background.
Wayne Coyne of the two-time award-winning band The Flaming Lips performing in 2004
Black and white image of a man behind a microphone stand holding a guitar; in the background is a man at a piano
2006 award winner Les Paul in 2008
A man in dark clothing standing on a stage while holding a guitar in front of a crowd. Behind him is a man with his arm raised, holding a drum stick and sitting behind a drum set.
2008 award winner Bruce Springsteen performing in 2008
Year[I] Performing artist(s) Work Nominees Ref.
1980 Paul McCartney and Wings "Rockestra Theme" [6]
1981 The Police "Reggatta de Blanc" [7]
1982 The Police "Behind My Camel" [8]
1983 A Flock of Seagulls "D.N.A." [9]
1984 Sting "Brimstone and Treacle" [10]
1985 Yes "Cinema" [11]
1986 Jeff Beck "Escape" [12]
1987 Art of Noise and Duane Eddy "Peter Gunn" [13]
1988 Frank Zappa Jazz from Hell [14]
1989 Carlos Santana Blues for Salvador [15]
1990 Jeff Beck, Terry Bozzio and Tony Hymas Jeff Beck's Guitar Shop [16]
1991 Vaughan Brothers[II] "D/FW" [17]
1992 Eric Johnson "Cliffs of Dover" [18]
1993 Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble "Little Wing" [19]
1994 Steve Vai "Sofa" [20]
1995 Pink Floyd "Marooned" [21]
1996 The Allman Brothers Band "Jessica" [22]
1997 Jimmie Vaughan, Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt, Robert Cray, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Dr. John, and Art Neville "SRV Shuffle" [23]
1998 The Chemical Brothers "Block Rockin' Beats" [24]
1999 Pat Metheny Group "The Roots of Coincidence" [25]
2000 Santana and Eric Clapton "The Calling" [26]
2001 Metallica, Michael Kamen and the San Francisco Symphony "The Call of Ktulu" [27]
2002 Jeff Beck "Dirty Mind" [28]
2003 The Flaming Lips "Approaching Pavonis Mons by Balloon (Utopia Planitia)" [29]
2004 Jeff Beck "Plan B" [30]
2005 Brian Wilson "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow" [31]
2006 Les Paul and Friends "69 Freedom Specials" [32]
2007 The Flaming Lips "The Wizard Turns On... The Giant Silver Flashlight and Puts on His Werewolf Moccasins" [33]
2008 Bruce Springsteen "Once Upon a Time in the West" [34]
2009 Zappa Plays Zappa featuring Steve Vai and Napoleon Murphy Brock "Peaches en Regalia" [35]
2010 Jeff Beck "A Day in the Life" [36]
2011 Jeff Beck "Hammerhead" [37]

^[I] Each year is linked to the article about the Grammy Awards held that year.
^[II] Vaughan Brothers consists of Jimmie and Stevie Ray Vaughan.