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By Marie-Louise Gumuchian
LONDON (Reuters) - Late music icon David Bowie was the big winner at the BRITs in London on Wednesday, taking the British male solo artist and album of the year prizes at the UK's top music awards.
Bowie, a pop chameleon who won legions of fans with his ground-breaking music, released his last album, "Blackstar," days before his death from cancer at age of 69 in January 2016.
At the British Record Industry Trust (BRIT) awards, Bowie beat off competition from the likes of grime artist Skepta, rapper Kano and singer Michael Kiwanuka in both the "British male solo artist" and "Mastercard British album of the year" categories.
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"He's always been there supporting people who think they’re a little bit weird or a little bit strange, a little bit different, and he's always been there for them," Bowie's son, Duncan Jones, said as he collected the album award. "This award is for all the kooks and all the people who make the kooks."
Held in the capital's O2 arena, the televised BRITs are the mainstream British music industry's top awards ceremony. The evening saw performances from Katy Perry, Robbie Williams, Bruno Mars and Ed Sheeran.
American singer Perry performed her single "Chained to the Rhythm" alongside dancers wearing models of white houses.
Perry, who wore an armband reading "Persist" when she performed the song at this month's Grammy Awards, was joined by two giant skeletons. British media and viewers taking to social media said the skeletons appeared to be dressed in outfits similar to what U.S. President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May wore when the two recently met in Washington.
Singer George Michael, who died in December, was honored with a tribute of his song "A Different Corner," performed by Coldplay frontman Chris Martin. Clips of the ex-Wham! singer appeared on stage, speaking as well as singing the same song.
ADELE WINS AGAIN
Other winners included girl band Little Mix, who won the "British single" prize for the song "Shout Out to My Ex." Singer Emeli Sande picked up the "British female solo artist" prize. The "British Group" accolade went to band The 1975.
Songstress Adele, whose album "25" triumphed at last year's BRITs and the Grammys, won the "BRITS global success award" for international sales of that same chart-topping work.
Singer-songwriter Rag'n'Bone Man, who was already announced as the "Critics Choice" pick for this year's awards, took "British Breakthrough Act." He also beat Skepta, who performed but went home empty-handed despite three nominations.
While the ceremony mainly honors British music and artists, it also has categories for international male and female solo artists as well as international group. Drake, Beyonce and A Tribe Called Quest won those categories, respectively.
Criticized last year for not representing non-white artists, organizers in November said they had invited more than 700 potential new voters to join the BRITs Voting Academy in a bid to "achieve greater gender balance as well as increased black, Asian and minority ethnic representation."
(Reporting by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Toby Chopra and Leslie Adler)