Winehouse was forced to deliver her rejection of rehab treatment by satellite after her visa application was delayed because of her widely documented drug problems. She won five Grammys, including Record of the Year for Rehab, dedicating her triumph to her imprisoned husband.
"To my mum and dad, for my Blake, my Blake incarcerated, and for London!" said Winehouse, after picking up the awards.
Kanye West won four Grammys but missed out on the album of the year to jazz legend Herbie Hancock who won for River: The Joni Letters. "I'd like to thank the Academy for courageously breaking the mold this time," said Hancock. "This is a new day, that proves that the impossible can be made possible."
Winehouse's other awards included prizes for best pop vocal album for Back to Black and best female pop vocal. West, who received eight nominations, won three early Grammies including best rap solo performance for Stronger.
Show opener Alicia Keys, who performed with a virtual version of the late crooner Frank Sinatra, won an award for best R&B singer.
Bruce Springsteen also won three Grammies including best rock song for Radio Nowhere; the White Stripes, Justin Timberlake and Mary J Blige all had two each.
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama won a Grammy for best spoken-word album for his book The Audacity Of Hope: Thoughts On Reclaiming The American Dream.