Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant was the big winner at the Grammys, taking home five prizes for his collaboration with bluegrass singer Alison Krauss.
The duo took the showpiece album of the year prize for Raising Sand along with record of the year for their single Please Read The Letter.
Plant led an array of British winners at the Los Angeles ceremony.
Coldplay, Adele, Duffy, Radiohead and Peter Gabriel were among other UK stars to see success in Los Angeles.
Plant and Krauss also won best contemporary folk/Americana album, best country collaboration with vocals and best pop collaboration with vocals.
"I'd like to say I'm bewildered," Plant told the audience.
"In the old days we would have called this selling out. But it's a good way to spend a Sunday."
Plant, 60, scotched rumours of a Led Zeppelin reunion last year to tour with Krauss, who at 37, now has 26 Grammys to her name.
"It's been a wonderful time," Krauss said as she collected the album of the year award.
Footage from the awards ceremony
The prestigious song of the year prize went to Coldplay for their track Viva La Vida at the US music industry's top awards ceremony, and they also landed a performance award for the same song and best rock album at the Los Angeles ceremony.
Thank you so much - I'm going to cry
"We've never had so many Grammys in our life," said Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin.
"We feel so grateful to be here. I'm going to tear up."
Adele added to British successes by winning best new artist and best pop vocal performance for Chasing Pavements.
"Thank you so much. I'm going to cry," the 20-year-old Londoner told the audience after winning best new artist, a category in which she beat Duffy - who won the pop vocal album prize - and wholesome US act the Jonas Brothers.
"I want to thank my manager, my mum, she's in London. And Duffy, I love you. I think you're amazing."
She added to laughter: "Jonas Brothers, I love you as well."
Radiohead, who performed with a marching band, took two prizes in the initial stages of the ceremony - best alternative album for In Rainbows and best boxed or special edition album, an award which goes to its designers.
Irish rock icons U2 began the evening with new single Get On Your Boots
Lil Wayne had the most nominations, eight in total, for his album Tha Carter III. He ended up taking four prizes home, but lost best rap/sung collaboration to Estelle and Kanye West's American Boy.
Jennifer Hudson was honoured for her eponymous album
US singer and actress Jennifer Hudson - back in the spotlight after the murders of her mother, brother and nephew last year - won her first Grammy in the best R&B album category.
"I don't really know what to say," said Hudson, her voice cracking with emotion. "I'm just in awe right now.
"I would like to thank my family in heaven and those that are here today. I just don't know where to start. Everybody, thank you all."
Later, she performed You Pulled Me Through, a song about overcoming deep despair, with the lyrics: "When I was drowning, when I was so confused, you, you pulled me through."
The 27-year-old dissolved into tears as she sang the song's final note.
Rihanna pulls out
Performers at the Staples Center included British vocalist MIA, who performed despite being due to give birth on the day of the ceremony.
Coldplay were among the acts to perform at the Grammys
However, singer Rihanna pulled out after Los Angeles police announced her partner, R&B star Chris Brown, was being investigated for allegedly attacking a woman in a car on Saturday night.
Brown was also due to perform, but instead was being questioned by police during the ceremony after walking into a police station at 1900 local time (0300 GMT on Monday).
The Associated Press said a spokesman for the artist had no comment when approached at the venue. Police did not name the woman who had made the complaint.
Sir Paul McCartney performed I Saw Her Standing There, with the Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl on drums.
But the former Beatle missed out on the male pop vocal performance prize, with the honour going to John Mayer.
Other early winners, announced ahead of the main ceremony, included late comedian George Carlin.
His daughter, Kelly Carlin-McCall, accepted the comedy album prize for It's Bad For Ya, released last July following his death from a heart attack aged 71.
"It's like the cherry on the top of a really, big beautiful cake," Ms Carlin-McCall said backstage.
"I'm just so happy people are honouring my father. Yet he's not here and I'd rather have him."
R&B star Al Green, gospel performer Kirk Franklin, French dance duo Daft Punk, country singer Brad Paisley and R&B singer/songwriter Ne-Yo took two prizes each in the early part of the ceremony.
So did British rocker Peter Gabriel, honoured for his work on the Pixar cartoon Wall-E.
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