Rock legend David Bowie posthumously won two Brit awards on Wednesday, in a ceremony which also paid tribute to the late George Michael.
Bowie, who died in January 2016, was named British male solo artist, becoming the first person to win a posthumous award in Brits history.
He beat fellow nominees Craig David, Michael Kiwanuka, Kano, and Skepta — who won the Mercury Prize for best British album with “Konnichiwa”.
The award was accepted by actor Michael C Hall, who starred in Bowie’s Lazarus musical and described the late musician as “a man beholden to nothing but his own boundless imagination and daring”.
The star’s last album, “Blackstar”, won British album of the year in a category which saw him up against The 1975, Kano, Michael Kiwanuka and Skepta.
Accepting that award on behalf of his late father, film director Duncan Jones dedicated it to “all the kooks” and spoke of Bowie’s support of unusual people.
“Blackstar”, which was released on Bowie’s 69th birthday just two days before he died, picked up five awards at the Grammys earlier this month.
The British female solo artist award went to Emeli Sande, who shot to stardom after performances at the 2012 London Olympics.
The Scottish artist, who also performed at Wednesday awards, beating Anohni, Ellie Goulding, Lianne La Havas, and Nao to the prize.
The British group statuette went to The 1975, a quartet from the northern English town of Manchester who first got together as teenagers.
They swept aside Radiohead, Biffy Clyro, Bastille and Little Mix who opened the ceremony at London’s O2 Arena.
A sombre mood took over the ceremony as the Brits remembered Wham! singer George Michael, who died on Christmas Day last year aged 53. Following a video of late artists including Leonard Cohen, who died in November aged 82, Michael’s former Wham! singer Andrew Ridgeley paid tribute to his bandmate alongside pop duo Pepsi & Shirlie.
Chris Martin from Coldplay performed Michael’s “A Different Corner”, his voice interwoven with that of the late British singer-songwriter, receiving a standing ovation from the audience.
Coldplay lost out in the British single category, which went to Little Mix for their catchy “Shout Out To My Ex”. The win was the first Brit award for the four-strong female group, formed in the X Factor reality show.
The British breakthrough act award went to singer-songwriter Rag’n’Bone Man, beating hopefuls Anne-Marie, Blossoms, Skepta and Stormzy.
One Direction won the British artist video of the year for “History”, winning against a lengthy list of nominees including Adele — who was given a global success award during the ceremony.
In the international categories Beyonce was named female solo artist, beating Christine And The Queens, Rihanna, Sia and Solange.
International male solo artist went to Drake, the world’s top-selling artist last year, who saw off nominees Bon Iver, Bruno Mars, Leonard Cohen and The Weeknd.
The Toronto artist won two Grammys and complained he had been pigeonholed as a rapper because he is black.
The Brit Awards has previously faced criticism for a lack of diversity and this year there were many more black nominees.
Hip-hop pioneers A Tribe Called Quest were named best international group, beating Drake & Future, Kings Of Leon, Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds and Twenty One Pilots.
This year’s winners received statuettes designed by the British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid, who died last March.
The British music industry contributed £4.1 billion ($5.1 billion) to the UK economy in 2015, and British artists accounted for one of every six albums purchased worldwide. —AFP