Balladeer Luther Vandross, recovering from a stroke, won four Grammys on Sunday including song of the year for "Dance With My Father," and Beyoncé earned a record-tying five honors.
OutKast won album of the year for SpeakerBoxxx/The Love Below in a ceremony televised by CBS on a five-minute delay to avoid anything like Janet Jackson's Super Bowl flesh flash.
Despite a tightly scripted show devoid of outrageousness or spontaneity — a marked contrast to today's pop scene — Jackson's breast-baring at the hands of dance partner Justin Timberlake remained the major subplot, as CBS and Jackson offered conflicting reports about why she was not at the show.
Timberlake: ‘It’s Been a Rough Week’ "I know it's been a rough week on everybody," said Timberlake, stifling a self-deprecating laugh while accepting the best male pop vocal performance award for "Cry Me a River." He brought his mother as his date. "What occurred was unintentional, completely regrettable, and I apologize if you guys are offended."
Vandross won for best song, best R&B album and best male R&B performance for "Dance With My Father"; and best R&B performance by a duo or group with vocals for "The Closer I Get to You," a remake he did with Beyoncé.
He was unable to attend, but sent a videotaped message, his first public remarks since his April 2003 stroke.
"I wish I could be with you there tonight. I want to thank everyone for your love and support," said a weak-looking Vandross. "And remember, when I say goodbye it's never for long, because" - and he sang — "I believe in the power of love!"
Beyoncé tied a record for female artists with her five awards, but won none of the top categories of song, record or album of the year. Evanescence Takes Best New Artist Honors The moody British rock band Coldplay, up against four hip-hop nominees for record of the year, won for their song "Clocks."
Rockers Evanescence won best new artist in an upset over rapper 50 Cent — who briefly walked onstage as Evanescence accepted their award.
"Thank you, 50," said Evanesence's Amy Lee as the rap star smiled for the camera.
Rock singer Warren Zevon, who rushed to complete a final album before his September death from lung cancer, won his first two Grammy Awards. June Carter Cash also won two posthumous awards, and her husband Johnny Cash and former Beatle George Harrison were also honored after their deaths.
The 46th annual awards show began at 4:55 p.m. — five minute before airtime — with Prince performing "Purple Rain," marking the 20th year of the groundbreaking song and movie.
Beyoncé, wearing a tight dress with a feather skirt that fleetingly revealed her pink panties, joined Prince on his hits and then sang her own "Crazy in Love," which won two trophies — for best R&B song and best rap/sung collaboration. Her boyfriend, Jay-Z, won two awards for collaborating on that hit.
Beyoncé also won best female R&B performance and best contemporary R&B album for Dangerously in Love, and best R&B performance by a duo or group for her song with Vandross.
Her five trophies tied a record set by Alicia Keys, Norah Jones and Lauryn Hill for the most Grammys won by a female artist.
"This is unbelievable. Performing was enough for me," an excited Beyoncé said. CBS Ask Timberlake, Jackson to Appologize OutKast, nominated for a leading six Grammys, won three: best album, best urban/alternative performance for "Hey Ya!" and best rap album for Speakerboxxx/The Love Below.
Other multiple winners included Jack White of The White Stripes and Eminem, with two each, and bluegrass singer Alison Krauss, who had three.
Timberlake was all over the awards, performing on several songs and winning two trophies. CBS said in a statement that it had reservations about allowing him and Jackson to appear as planned, but ultimately "respected the Recording Academy's wishes to produce the program they originally intended."
CBS said it agreed to allow Timberlake and Jackson as long as they apologized on the air for their Super Bowl stunt.
But a statement from Jackson's camp said CBS and the Grammys first asked her not to attend, then reversed themselves and re-invited her, but she chose not to attend.
"She was never uninvited," insisted Jason Padgitt of the publicity firm Rogers & Cowan, which represents the Recording Academy. "She was always invited to be here and she chose not to be."
The incident bubbled beneath the surface all night. "I don't want to have the same thing happen that Janet had done," Christina Aguilera said while accepting the award for best female pop vocal performance in a dress cut so low, CBS briefly imposed a graphic across her chest. "But, uh, if I can keep it together …"
Pharrell Williams, who along with Jay-Z and OutKast also had six nominations, won his first Grammy during the pre-telecast ceremony for his production work with Chad Hugo as white-hot hit-makers The Neptunes. They have produced songs for artists ranging from Justin Timberlake to Jay-Z in 2003 alone.
The Neptunes weren't even nominated last year, because the record companies they produced hits for forgot to put them on the ballot.
"I was a little upset last year," Pharrell acknowledged during his acceptance speech. He also used the opportunity to stand up for friends Jackson and Timberlake. "What happened at the Super Bowl was a bit much, but I happen to know both of those people … and they've done great things to support people around the world."
Cash, and director Mark Romanek, won for best short form music video for the haunting song "Hurt." Cash's wife, who died a few months before him in 2003, won best traditional folk album for the posthumous release Wildwood Flower and best female country vocal performance for "Keep on the Sunny Side."
The most unusual winner was former President Bill Clinton, former Soviet Union president Mikhail Gorbachev and Sophia Loren, who won best spoken word album for children for their reading on Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf/Beintus: Wolf Tracks.