The Welsh trio — whose hits include Motorcycle Emptiness, A Design For Life and If You Tolerate This, Your Children Will Be Next — are celebrating their 25th year this year.
Also among the winners last night was guitarist Jeff Beck, collected a “living legend” award for his lifetime achievements.
The virtuoso player, who has led his own band for many years as well as being a member of the Yardbirds, joins previous winners such as Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper and Ozzy Osbourne.
The Orange Amplification Classic Rock Roll Of Honour also recognised a string of luminaries, including Steve Winwood who picked up the “maestro” award. He is known around the world for his years in Traffic and The Spencer Davis Group as well as being a star in his own right with hits such as Valerie and Higher Love.
Former Pink Floyd star Roger Waters won the event of the year award for staging his live shows of the band’s album The Wall.
Heavy rock pioneers Deep Purple took the innovator award, and Jethro Tull were honoured for their contribution to prog rock.
Late Small Faces and Humble Pie frontman Steve Marriott was given the inspiration award for the influence on British singers.
And US record producer Bob Ezrin — who has worked with acts such as Nine Inch Nails, Lou Reed and Rod Stewart — was given the outstanding contribution prize.
Readers voted the Foo Fighters as band of the year, while the best new band accolade went to Vintage Trouble.
The Who’s Quadrophenia was given the classic album award at the awards bash hosted by Kiss frontman Gene Simmons at the Roundhouse in London.
Classic Rock magazine’s editor Chris Ingham said: “The winners have proved themselves with long and illustrious careers, bringing pleasure to millions. And this year, we welcome the Manic Street Preachers as first-time winners, proving that there are still artists who can stand the test.”