David Bowie becomes the first posthumous main category Brits winner in history

David Bowie has been named British Male Solo Artist at the Brit Awards just over a year since his death.

The music superstar received the accolade for the third time and is the first posthumous winner of a main category award in the Brits history.

Bowie, who died of cancer in January last year aged 69, also previously received the Outstanding Contribution to British Music award in 1996.

David Bowie (Yui Mok/PA)

His final album, Blackstar, which is up for Album of the Year at this year’s awards, was released just two days before his death.

Actor Michael C Hall, who stars in the Bowie musical Lazarus, appeared on stage to collect the award on his behalf.

He said: “If David Bowie could be here tonight, he probably wouldn’t be here tonight. But since he can’t be here tonight I’m here on his behalf, on behalf of his family, to accept this testament to a man beholden to nothing but his own boundless imagination and daring whose ever expanding artistic vitality simultaneously soothes us and astonishes us… maybe he is here tonight, I don’t know.

“I’m honoured to stand before you and acknowledge the potency of his work and if I may also acknowledge that David’s kindness and generosity and enthusiasm will forever inspire me to be a better man. On his behalf, thank you.”

Other artists who have won Brits following their deaths include Freddie Mercury and John Lennon, who both won the Outstanding Contribution award.

Earlier Emeli Sande had collected the prize for best British Female Solo Artist while indie-pop group The 1975 were named the best British Group.

Emeli Sande (Dominic Lipinski /PA)

The Manchester-formed band beat Radiohead, Bastille, Little Mix and Biffy Clyro to win their first ever Brit Award.

Their win also means the Brits’ 40-year wait for a girl group to collect the prize continues.

Frontman Matt Healy urged musicians to use their “platform” during the band’s victory speech.

He said: “I just wanna say, at the moment, I think people in pop music and in the broader public consciousness are told to stay in your lane, stay in your lane when talking about social issues.

The 1975′s Matt Healy (Matt Crossick /PA)

“But if you have a platform don’t do that, please don’t do that.”

He added: “We love you and we’re very very honoured.”

Comedian Romesh Ranganathan was the first to reference last year’s “Brits So White” controversy, as he told viewers: “I’m here because they heard I listen to grime and they’re trying to overcompensate for last year.”

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