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U2 is the big Grammy winner

Carey, West, Legend have 3 each; Sly Stone comes and goes

By Todd Leopold

U2 members (from left) Larry Mullen, The Edge, Bono and Adam Clayton celebrate backstage.


Mariah Carey
Arts, Culture and Entertainment
Kanye West

(CNN) -- Mariah Carey may have received much of the pre-show attention, but U2 was the big winner Wednesday night at the Grammys, taking five awards -- including two of the biggest, album of the year and song of the year.

In accepting the album award for "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb," Bono, U2's lead singer, paid tribute to all the other nominees, including Kanye West.

"Kanye, you're next," he told the rapper, who had received eight nominations and was considered a favorite for the big award. West's album "Late Registration," besides being a big seller, dominated critics' 2005 best-of lists.

The album of the year award is U2's second. The band also won for 1987's "The Joshua Tree." (Watch Bono and the gang chew on their win and their pizza -- 5:42)

U2 won song of the year, a songwriter's award, for "Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own," as well as best rock album for "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb."

After the song of the year award, Bono explained the odd album title was a reference to his father, Bob, the "atomic bomb" of the title. He hoped winning the Grammys would provide some comfort to what was sometimes a difficult relationship. Bob Hewson died in 2001; his wife, Bono's mother, had died when Bono was 14 and he raised the singer, born Paul Hewson, alone after that.

U2 also gave one of the night's outstanding performances, offering an energetic "Vertigo" and then a moving "One," the latter with Mary J. Blige. The band's guitarist, The Edge, joined in on a telecast-concluding performance of "Yes We Can Can" (written by New Orleans' Allen Toussaint) and "In the Midnight Hour" (a tribute to the late Wilson Pickett).

The group now has 20 Grammys, among the top 10 award winners on the all-time list.

Kelly Clarkson, who just a few short years ago was a wannabe contestant on "American Idol," won best female vocal performance for her song "Since U Been Gone" and best pop vocal album for "Breakaway." (Watch why Clarkson's worried about what's on her BlackBerry -- 5:20)

After thanking "Jesus, God and everybody who has supported me," Clarkson was overcome with emotion after accepting the second award. "I'm so proud of myself for not crying!" she exclaimed. She had given her speech through tears of joy the first time around.

Green Day won record of the year for "Boulevard of Broken Dreams," from the album "American Idiot."

Spreading the wealth

Carey and West, despite losing out on the big prizes, didn't leave empty-handed.

Carey, also up for eight Grammys, picked up three -- for best contemporary R&B album for "The Emancipation of Mimi," best R&B song for "We Belong Together" and best female R&B vocal performance for the same tune.

However, all her awards were presented before the Grammy telecast -- with 100-plus categories, most Grammys are awarded before the show -- and her time on air was limited to a performance of "We Belong Together" followed by "Fly Like a Bird."

West and his album "Late Registration" earned three awards, including best rap album. The performer also engaged in an elaborate production number with Jamie Foxx, who sings on West's single "Gold Digger."

West's protege, John Legend, won three awards: best R&B album for his platinum debut, "Get Lifted," best male R&B performance and best new artist.

Alison Krauss, much honored over the years, won yet another Grammy, this one for best country album.

A number of veterans picked up Grammys in pre-telecast honors, including Les Paul -- currently hospitalized with pneumonia -- Burt Bacharach and Tony Bennett.

The appearance, and disappearance, of Sly Stone

Sixty-three-year-old Paul McCartney, playing his distinctive Hofner violin bass, gave a scorching performance of the Beatles' classic "Helter Skelter" after playing piano and singing "A Fine Line," the latter from his album "Chaos and Creation in the Backyard." McCartney also came out for a rap-rock version of "Yesterday" with Jay-Z and Linkin Park.

Bruce Springsteen interjected a political note, ending a gritty performance of "Devils & Dust" with a call to "Bring 'em home," referring to the soldiers in Iraq.

But perhaps the loudest applause -- and certainly the most amazement -- greeted Sly Stone as he joined a tribute to his music in the middle of "I Want to Take You Higher."

The onetime leader of Sly and the Family Stone, who has avoided the public eye for many years, appeared with a bleached-blond mohawk haircut, not to mention a metallic greatcoat, sunglasses and a giant "SLY" belt buckle. He played keyboards and led some of the singing, but looked uncomfortable and had disappeared by the end of the song.

Despite the strange appearance (and disappearance), his performance riveted his fellow musicians. "Can you really argue with an unbelievable looking mohawk and a silver jacket?" asked Maroon 5's Adam Levine.

The show was introduced by Alicia Keys and Stevie Wonder. After some awkward banter, the latter dedicated an a capella verse of his song "Higher Ground" to the late Coretta Scott King, who passed away last week.

Despite the performances, the awards, the usual clamor, the Grammys weren't everything to some musicians.

Gwen Stefani, visibly pregnant in an animal-print gown, patted her belly as she talked with CNN on the red (actually green, in Grammy's case) carpet before the show. The singer is expecting her first child soon.

"I feel like I already have my award," she said.

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