The 67-year-old musical chameleon was named British male artist of the year – making him the oldest ever recipient of a Brit.
And reading out an acceptance speech on his behalf, supermodel Kate Moss said the music legend thanked his fans. She then made a throwaway remark on his behalf saying: “Scotland, please stay with us” – obviously referring to the referendum.
Wearing one of Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust shirts, she accepted the prize – Bowie’s first Brit for 18 years. He previously won the prize 30 years ago, and the only other win he has notched up in his long career was an honorary title in 1996 for outstanding contribution to music.
With tonight’s win he has become the oldest star to be awarded a Brit, succeeding Sir Tom Jones, who was 62 when he picked up his outstanding contribution prize.
New York-based Bowie failed to scoop the album of the year at the Brits, for his first release in a decade, The Next Day2 – beaten by the Arctic Monkeys for their work AM. Bowie had been favourite to win the solo category – ahead of a field made up of John Newman, Jake Bugg, Tom Odell and James Blake The ceremony is the biggest night in the UK music calendar, with dozens of stars and thousands of fans gathered at London’s O2 Arena.
Arctic Monkeys were named best British group – the third time they have collected the trophy, having won it in 2007 and 2008 – beating acts such as One Direction.
The band have previously collected awards in fancy dress, with former appearances in hunting gear and dressed as Village People. However, this time they opted for smart suits.
They collected the award from Lily Allen, who experienced a less than slick moment at the glitzy awards as she was unsure what to do when it came to reading out the shortlist, asking: “Do I just go straight into it?”
One Direction suffered a toilet mishap as Harry Styles was still visiting the loo while the rest of his group was collecting the band’s global success award.
When they took the stage as a four-piece, the group’s Liam Payne asked: “Has anyone seen the curly-haired lad? I don’t know where you are, Harry.”
Styles then came hurtling up a runway to the stage and told the audience: “I’m really sorry I was having a wee. Toilets are ages away. What did we win?
And as Prince arrived to read out the nominees he whipped out a phone and took a “selfie” alongside him.
Singer Ellie Goulding, who was accompanied by her mother, was named best British female star to land the first prize of the night
The 27-year-old – who scored her first number one last year with Burn – took the trophy four years after collecting her first Brit. Goulding accepted her prize from music legend Prince and his group 3RDEYEGIRL who are in the UK to perform a series of intimate surprise shows at well-known venues. She beat acts such as Jessie J and Laura Marling to the prize.
Rudimental collected the award for best British single for Waiting All Night, which featured Ella Eyre. Guitarist and producer Nile Rodgers collected the best group award on behalf of French duo Daft Punk – who often appear in public dressed as robots – who did not attend.
Rodgers worked on the pair’s Random Access Memories album as well as adding his signature guitar sound to the single Get Lucky. He told guests the album was a team effort, and said: “Those robots had an amazing vision – they stuck to it when they said it couldn’t be done.”
Katy Perry was among the performers, playing her single Dark Horse with a fluorescent Egyptian-themed stage set, flanked by costumed dancers.
US star Bruno Mars was named best international male act, an award he had previously collected in 2012. Four-piece act Bastille won the prize for best British breakthrough.
Most of the winners were decided by a ballot of some 1,000 music-industry members.
British Male - David Bowie
British Female - Ellie Goulding
British Group - Arctic Monkeys
Breakthrough Act - Bastille
British Single - Rudimental featuring Ella Eyre – Waiting All Night
Album Of The Year - Arctic Monkeys – AM
Global success - One Direction
Best Video - One Direction – Best Song Ever
International Male - Bruno Mars
International Female - Lorde
International Group - Daft Punk
Critics’ Choice - Sam Smith
Producer Of The Year - Flood & Alan Moulder