Death casts shadow over Grammys
The Grammys got under way, with the Recording Academy trying to focus on music's biggest night after of the death of one of music's biggest names - Whitney Houston.
Houston died on the eve of the Grammys at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, where she was preparing to attend a pre-Grammy party.
Her death cast a huge shadow over the event. As the pre-broadcast awards ceremony began, co-host Dave Koz acknowledged the tragedy, noting the "great legacy of Miss Whitney Houston. She's in our hearts and our minds".
A tribute to Houston featuring Jennifer Hudson was to take place during the main ceremony later.
Before the death of one of pop music's most important figures, the Grammy buzz focused on whether Adele - 2011's top-selling artist and set to make her first public performance on the show since having vocal cord surgery - would be the queen of the Grammys. Although Kanye West leads all nominees with seven and Bruno Mars and the Foo Fighters tied Adele with six nominations, she was favoured to sweep all of her categories.
But as show time neared, the focus remained on Houston's death.
Grammy show producer Ken Ehrlich was quick to announce Hudson's tribute. "It's too fresh in everyone's memory to do more at this time," he said, "but we would be remiss if we didn't recognise Whitney's remarkable contribution to music fans in general, and in particular her close ties with the Grammy telecast and her Grammy wins and nominations over the years."
More Houston tributes from nominees and presenters are expected during the three-and-a-half hour Staples Centre show, which was to feature the Foo Fighters, Mars, Nicki Minaj, Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Taylor Swift, Chris Brown and Rihanna.
It will mark the first time Rihanna and Brown have appeared at the same awards show since his attack on her three years ago - also on the eve of the Grammys - forced both to drop out of the show and led to an assault conviction for Brown.
It almost derailed his career, but 2011 marked a huge comeback, and he was rewarded with a Grammy performance slot on the CBS broadcast.