The music industry's biggest awards night has been overshadowed by the sudden death of NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, who was killed along with eight others including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna in a helicopter crash in Calabasis, California.

The show kicked off with a touching and emotional tribute by host Alicia Keys, who was joined on stage by Boyz II Men to sing an acapella version of It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday at the Staples Centre.

Grammys 2020: Kobe Bryant's shock death overshadows music industry's biggest awards_1
Inset: Alicia Keys remembers NBA star Kobe Bryant before the 62nd Grammy Awards got underway in LA. Photo: Getty

"Here we are together on music's biggest night celebrating the artists that do it best, but to be honest with you we are all feeling crazy sadness right now," Keys said as she entered the stage, adding that "Los Angeles, America and the world-wide world lost a hero."

Keys, 39, wearing an off-the-shoulder stunning silver sequin gown said the audience was "heartbroken in the house that Kobe Bryant built."

"Right now Kobe and his daughter Gianna … are in our spirits, they're in our hearts, they're in prayers, they're in this building," she added. "Take a moment and hold them inside of you and share our strength and our support with their families."

She sat at the piano, and with a captivated audience, told them "we're going to sing together, we're going to cry together".

Lizzo was among the mix of newcomers and well-known acts who reached their goals of winning their first-ever Grammy Awards, which also included Tanya Tucker, J Cole, Billie Eilish, Lil Nas X and late rapper Nipsey Hussle.

And Beyonce, the most nominated woman in the history of the Grammys, won her 24th award.

The music video for the viral hit Old Town Road by Lil Nas X with Billy Ray Cyrus took home a Grammy, along with Beyonce's Homecoming which won for best music film.

Lady Gaga won two for her work on movie A Star is Born, while slain rapper Nipsey Hussle won best rap performance for Racks in the Middle.

Michelle Obama, Sara Bareilles, Rosalia and 21 Savage also became official Grammy winners when the show handed out trophies during its pre-telecast ceremony.

Gary Clark Jr and Eilish's brother, Finneas, walked away as the most awarded stars, so far, taking home three awards each.

Finneas,  who co-wrote, produced and engineered his sister's debut album, When We All Fall sleep, Where Do We Go? – won best engineered album (non-classical), best pop vocal album (shared with his sister) and non-classical producer of the year.

"My heart is beating so fast right now," Finneas said. "This award belongs to my sister Billie for her trust and vision."

Nipsey Hussle has posthumously won best rap performance for Racks in the Middle, which features Roddy Ricch and Hit-Boy.

Hussle's family, including his brother, grandmother and actress-fiancee Lauren London, accepted the honour during the pre-telecast.

"Nip did it, not just for the awards, but for the people," London said onstage.
Mourners gather outside STAPLES Centre

Hundreds gathered outside of the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday afternoon to mourn the Lakers legend amid chants of "Kobe! Kobe!" breaking out spontaneously.

A black-and-white photo of Bryant populated screens featuring the message "In Loving Memory of Kobe Bryant, 1978-2020," which was displayed outside the Staples Center and Microsoft Theater, while thethe Grammys were under way inside on Sunday night local time.

At a news conference Sunday, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said nine people were on board the helicopter, including Bryant and his daughter Gianna, 13. The identities of the other passengers have not yet been released. There were no survivors.

Bryant was travelling via private helicopter when it crashed in Calabasas, a suburb of Los Angeles. His 13-year-old daughter Gianna was among the deceased. The helicopter was said to be en route to her basketball game in Thousand Oaks.

-with AAP