But the surprise of the night came right at the end of the ceremony when indie darlings Arcade Fire picked up Album of the Year honours for The Suburbs, beating favourites Eminem and Lady Antebellum.
The night's triple winners were rocker Jeff Beck, John Legend and Jay-Z, while The Black Keys, gospel stars Be Be & Ce Ce Winans and Usher were among the double winners.
Eminem, who led the nominations with 10, went home with two and Justin Bieber was a surprise non-winner. He lost out to little-known jazz performer Esperanza Spalding in the Best New Artist category, while Lady Gaga beat him in the Best Pop Vocal Album.
The highlight of the ceremony at the Staples Center came when Gwyneth Paltrow joined Cee Lo Green and The Muppets for a colourful rendition of Forget You. Other stars who wowed with performances included Arcade Fire, Katy Perry, who kicked off her set from a perch as footage from her wedding to Russell Brand was beamed onto a backdrop behind her, Barbra Streisand, Eminem, Dr. Dre and Rihanna and Mick Jagger, who brought the star-studded audience to its feet with a rousing tribute to Solomon Burke in his first Grammys set.
And the ceremony opened in style as Christina Aguilera, Martina McBride and Jennifer Hudson joined a group of leading ladies to pay a musical tribute to Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin.