This is where the Grammys are born, in a remote mountain workshop in Colorado


Few places feel more removed from the glamorous world of the entertainment industry than this remote city in the San Juan Mountains.

It is an almost magical land of trout streams, turquoise lakes and steep ridges.

It is also home to the Grammy Awards.

In a small workshop here, John Billings and his team of three craftsmen mold, hammer, polish and bademble each of the small golden gramophones. There are no robots or badembly lines. ancient hammers, files and infinite patience.

Billings, 71, has been making the Grammys for 41 of the awards. 60 years, including the next awards ceremony. His workshop will produce 350, along with around 220 Latin Grammys, for the next show on January 28. Each one takes 15 hours to do.

When they finish, they put them in a trailer and take them to Los Angeles. Once there, Billings picks up a load of his signature "grammium", a secret zinc alloy used to make the prizes that melt in the suburbs of Los Angeles. Then we will return to the southwest of Colorado to start again.

It may seem surprising that Recording Academy, which distributes the Grammys, depends on four types in a 2,000-square-foot mountain workshop for its most prestigious award.

Oscar statuettes are made by a New York company whose website says its main study bay "is as big as a football field and has four floors." The Primetime, Daytime and Sports Emmys are manufactured in an 82,000-square-foot facility in Chicago.

"I think it's not our style to go for the easiest way to do things," said Bill Freimuth, senior vice president of awards at the Recording Academy. "One of the reasons why artists appreciate the award is because it is handmade and crafted by other artists, some would argue that it is more valuable because of that."

Billings, known locally as the Grammy Man, would certainly agree.

"Every Grammy we do is an individual," he said.

And as individuals, imperfections may arise.

"We'll ask each other," is it a flaw or does it give him character? & # 39; & # 39; & # 39; & # 39; said Billings. "If it's flawed, we throw it away, others we keep. "

On a recent Saturday, Billings sat in a dark room surrounded by old or broken Grammys, one that serves as a paperweight, doing the Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle.The place was quiet.An image of the musician Carlos Santana holding a pile of Grammys from the mantle

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