The 50th anniversary Grammy Awards actually started in the middle of the day today (Feb. 10), with 100 awards handed out in the pre-telecast portion of the event.
Kanye West, who leads the field with eight nominations, took home three during the pre-telecast, including best rap solo performance for “Stronger,” best rap performance for “Southside,” by Common featuring West and best rap/sung collaboration for “Good Life” by West and featuring T-Pain.
Multiple nominees Amy Winehouse and Justin Timberlake started winning early, taking home best female pop vocal performance and best male pop vocal performance for “Rehab” and “What Goes Around … Comes Around,” respectively. Winehouse also won for best pop vocal album for “Back to Black.” Timberlake won best dance recording for “Lovestoned/I Think She Knows,” alongside producers Nate (Danja) Hills and Timbaland and mixers Jimmy Douglass & Timbaland.
In addition, Winehouse’s producer, Mark Ronson, won for producer of the year, non-classical, for his work on “Back to Black,” “Rehab,” “You Know I’m No Good,” “Littelest Things” by Lily Allen and his own “Version.” “I came here when I was 10 years old as a seat-filler!” he exclaimed upon his win. “I really can’t believe this. It’s surreal, bizarre.”
Another multiple nominee, Bruce Springsteen, won for best solo rock vocal performance and best rock song for “Radio Nowhere” from “Magic”; Springsteen also won best rock instrumental performance for his “Once Upon A Time In The West” from “We All Love Ennio Morricone.”
The White Stripes took home Grammys for best alternative music album for “Icky Thump” and best rock performance by a duo or group with vocals for the title track. The Foo Fighters won for best hard rock performance for “The Pretender,” a record-breaking hit on Billboard’s modern rock chart.
“People watching at home may think that music’s biggest night is a couple of hours away, but we in this room know music’s biggest night starts now,” said Jimmy Jam, Recording Academy Chairman of the Board of Trustees. “It’s through your efforts that our often troubled world is treated to the healing sounds and the power of music.”
Dirty Harry, Kerry Brothers & Alicia Keys won for best R&B song for “No One,” while there was a tie for best gospel performance between the Clark Sisters for “Blessed & Highly Favored” and Aretha Franklin & Mary J. Blige for “Never Gonna Break My Faith,” a track that featured the Harlem Boys Choir. Franklin and Blige’s track appeared in the movie “Bobby,” and represents Franklin’s 18th Grammy win.
For the first time, a Grammy was handed out for best zydeco/cajun music album, which went to Terrance Simien & the Zydeco Experience for “Live! Worldwide.” In addition, Simien performed at the pre-telecast ceremony.
The Beastie Boys won best pop instrumental album for “The Mix-Up,” while the Chemical Brothers’ “We Are the Night” took home the best electronic/dance album Grammy and Slayer’s “Final Six” was named best metal performance.
Among the other winners: the best score soundtrack album went to Michael Giacchino, the composer for “Ratatouille.” Siedah Garret & Henry Krieger’s “Love You I Do,” from “Dreamgirls,” won best song written for motion picture, television or other visual media. The track was nominated at last year’s Academy Awards, but lost out to Melissa Etheridge’s “I Need To Wake Up” from the global warming documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.”
The audience whooped it up when Barack Obama won his second Grammy for best spoken world album for “The Audacity Of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream.” One of his fellow nominees? Former President Bill Clinton, for “Giving: How Each of Us Can Change The World.”
The event, hosted by Patti Austin and Peter Frampton, started at Staples Center four hours before the televised Grammys began.
For live blogging from the Grammy Red Carpet, visit Billboard’s Mobile Beat blog.