Adele scooped five Grammy awards on a record-breaking night where the singer's album "25" won album of the year.
But the 28-year-old, who also claimed record and song of the year for single "Hello," failed to hold back tears as she said Beyonce's "Lemonade" should have been crowned top album.
And Adele was left "devastated" after earlier fluffing her musical tribute to George Michael, having restarted her cover of Fastlove.
Meanwhile in further success for British artists, David Bowie was awarded four posthumous Grammys following his death from cancer in early 2016.
The Brixton-born artist won a quartet of gongs, including for his album Blackstar - released two days before his death.
On a highly successful evening in Los Angeles, Adele also took home best pop vocal album for "25" and best pop solo performance for "Hello" - leaving her with a total of five nods.
Dedicating her best album award to 35-year-old Beyonce, Adele said: "I can't possibly accept this award.
"I'm very humble and I'm grateful and gracious but my artist of my life is Beyonce and the Lemonade album was just so monumental - Beyonce, it was so monumental - and so well thought out and so beautiful and soul-bearing."
Following Sunday evening's success, Adele became the first artist to win song, record and album of the year in the same year twice - coming after her success in 2012 with album "21."
The "Someone Like You" singer had been in tears again during the California ceremony having restarted her tribute to George Michael, who died on Christmas Day.
Adele swore as she called a halt to her performance of Fastlove, telling the audience: "I'm sorry, I can't mess this up for him."
Backstage she described herself as "devastated."
Meanwhile Bowie, whose death came at the age of 69 following a secret battle with cancer, won his first music Grammys since winning best music video for Jazzin' For Blue Jean in 1985 and a lifetime achievement award in 2006.
This time round, Bowie won best rock performance, best alternative music album, best recording package, and best engineered album, non-classical, for Blackstar - which went to number one in both the UK and US.
The album release had coincided with Bowie's birthday on January 8, as well as preceding his death by two days.
Elsewhere, Beyonce made her first public performance since announcing she is pregnant with twins - performing two songs from hit album Lemonade.
Husband Jay Z and daughter Blue Ivy were both in the star-studded audience as Beyonce won best urban contemporary album and best music video for Formation.
Chance The Rapper won best new artist, best rap album and best rap performance after becoming the first artist to be nominated for a streaming-only album following the release of Coloring Book.
Among the other performers in Los Angeles were rapper Busta Rhymes, Metallica, Lady Gaga and Bruno Mars - who played a tribute to Prince.
However, Kanye West, Justin Bieber and Drake - who won two awards for Hotline Bling - did not attend the ceremony.