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Bowie wins four Grammys, Adele takes two on night of absent friends

Beyoncé is competing head-on with Britain's Adele, 28, the only other artist to be nominated for three of the top awards.

British singer Adele. Picture: AFP.

LOS ANGELES - David Bowie on Sunday won four posthumous Grammys for his final album Blackstar, while Adele set the early pace in her head-to-head battle with Beyoncé by winning two early awards.

Beyoncé, 35, went into the Grammy awards with a leading nine nominations for Lemonade, an anthem to race, feminism, betrayal and empowerment.

With one early win for her Formation music video, she is expected to steal the show with her first public performance later on Sunday since her surprise announcement 12 days ago that she is pregnant with twins.

Beyoncé is competing head-on with Britain's Adele, 28, the only other artist to be nominated for all three top awards - album, song and record of the year.

In early awards handed out before the televised show, Adele beat Beyoncé in the pop vocal performance category, and her best-selling "25" also won for pop vocal album.

An overwhelmed Chance the Rapper picked up his first ever Grammy, for best rap performance.

"This is crazy... I love my family, I love God and I love music," the Chicago artist said.

Bowie went four for four for Blackstar, marking the first music Grammys for the British singer who had never won in his lifetime for an individual album or song. Blackstar was released just days before his death in January 2016 of cancer.

Accepting the rock performance Grammy on Bowie's behalf, band-mate Donny McCaslin called Bowie "an artistic genius and a funny-as-hell guy."

The Grammys are as much about performances as trophies, and artists including Adele, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, The Weekend, Demi Lovato, A Tribe Called Quest, and album of the year Americana music nominee Sturgill Simpson will take the stage later on Sunday.

The 2017 Grammys were also a tale of absent friends.

Prince and British pop star George Michael, who both died unexpectedly last year, will be remembered in special tributes.

Some of music's biggest current acts were also missing.

Frank Ocean did not submit his critically acclaimed Blonde for Grammy consideration because he considers the organisation out of touch with young black artists; multiple nominees Justin Bieber and Kanye West were not expected to attend for similar reasons despite multiple nominations; and Canadian rapper Drake, whose Views was the biggest selling album worldwide in 2016, and who won two early Grammys, is on tour in England.

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