Anoushka Shankar, his daughter, accepted the award on his behalf. The sitar player and composer was also a nominee for her album "Traveller.''
The group bested Frank Ocean, who was favored to win the best new artist award. Ocean had gotten most of the attention before the Grammys, and won two trophies during the telecast, but his fellow lead nominees got an early lead on the R&B singer.
"We Are Young'' helped fun. earn a starring role at these Grammys with nominations in all four major categories after the release of their first album, matched only by Christopher Cross in 1981, and six overall. The band turned in a powerful early performance of "Carry On'' as a downpour on stage began mid-song and guitarist Jack Antonoff got a kiss from his girlfriend, "Girls'' creator Lena Dunham, after winning.
Belgian-Australian artist Gotye won best alternative album for "Making Mirrors,'' as well as record of the year and best pop/duo performance for his smash hit "Somebody That I Used To Know,'' featuring New Zealand singer-songwriter Kimbra.
But it was The Black Keys and singer-guitarist Dan Auerbach who took an early lead thanks to a strong run in the pre-telecast awards show.
The group took best rock performance for "Lonely Boy'' during the main telecast and earlier in the day won best rock song for "Lonely Boy'' and best rock album for "El Camino'' with bandmate Patrick Carney, and Auerbach was named producer of the year. He also got an assist - but no trophy - on Dr. John's best blues album "Locked Down,'' which he produced.
Ocean won best urban contemporary album for "channel ORANGE.'' He beat out Chris Brown, with whom he recently scuffled. Ocean took the stage with tape on two of his left fingers, a remnant of the fight, and Brown clapped politely and nodded as he walked to the stage.
And he won best rap/sung collaboration for "No Church in the Wild'' with fellow top nominees Jay-Z and Kanye West, and The-Dream. The win gave West and Jay-Z three wins on the night after wins for best rap song and best rap performance for "... in Paris,'' another "Watch the Throne'' track.
Gotye and electronic dance music innovator Skrillex won three awards and a slew of artists sit one back, including top nominees Kanye West and Jay-Z, former best new artist winner Esperanza Spalding, jazz man Chick Corea and Christian singer-songwriter Matt Redman.
Other early winners included Rihanna, Beyonce, Britain's Mumford & Sons and Taylor Swift, who opened the show as the Mad Hatter. Swift dressed in white top hat, tails, shorts and tall boots during the surreal version of her hummable hit "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together'' that included a troop of mime clowns and a guy on a tricycle with a flame-thrower attached.
The singer pretended to talk to the offending boyfriend on the phone: "I'm busy opening the Grammys and we're never getting back together.''
Justin Timberlake debuted new tracks "Suit & Tie'' with Jay-Z and "Pusher Love'' in a performance that was broadcast in retro black and white. Elton John and Ed Sheeran teamed on "The A Team'' and Miguel and Wiz Khalifa joined forces teamed up on "Adorn.'' Alicia Keys played drums during Maroon 5's "Daylight,'' before Adam Levine's band backed her on "Girl on Fire.''
Adele won the first award of the night on the main telecast, taking home best pop solo performance for "Set Fire to the Rain (Live),'' in one of the night's least-surprising moments - though the singer was somewhat taken aback.
"I just wanted to be part of the night, because I loved it last year, obviously,'' she said of winning a record-tying six awards in 2012.
Carrie Underwood won best country solo performance for "Blown Away'' and Kelly Clarkson turned in the night's most exuberant acceptance speech after winning best pop vocal album for "Stronger.'' After hugging much of the front row and momentarily getting stuck to Miranda Lambert's dress, Clarkson charged the stage with a giant smile.
"Miguel, I don't know who the hell you are, but we need to sing together,'' she said. "I mean, good God. That was the sexiest dancing I've ever seen.''
The Grammy pre-telecast awards show at the Nokia Theatre had 70 trophies up for grabs, including rock, pop, rap and country categories.
Skrillex won best dance recording for "Bangarang,'' featuring Sirah, best dance/electronica album for "Bangarang'' and best remixed recording a year after winning those same awards in his first appearance at the Grammys.
"You know what, I thought I'd get used to it, but I tripped over every word when I was up there,'' Skrillex said of his acceptance speeches. "I felt like I just wanted a pool of ice water and just couldn't even breathe or think. It was crazy. I think it was even crazier than last year.''
Celebrities rolled down the red carpet in the early afternoon under heavy police guard during a continued manhunt for an alleged cop killer. Many stars showed a fair amount of skin despite CBS's mandate that stars dress appropriately with butts, breasts and other sensitive areas covered adequately.
Nevertheless, Jennifer Lopez showed up on stage in a dress slit all the way to her hip.
"As you can see, I read the memo,'' Lopez joked.
Other early winners included Canadian rapper Drake won his first Grammy, the best rap album award for "Take Care.''
Paul McCartney won best traditional pop vocal album for "Kisses On The Bottom,'' while The Beach Boys earned best historical album for "The Smile Sessions.''
Colombian pop superstar Juanes took home the award for best Latin pop album for his "MTV Unplugged'' album.
Quetzal, a bilingual Los Angeles rock band, for best Latin rock, urban or alternative album for "Imaginaries.''
Cuban-born trumpeter Arturo Sandoval's "Dear Diz (Every Day I Think Of You)'' won for best large jazz ensemble, his fourth Grammy.
The Latin jazz award, which was restored this year after its elimination was met with widespread protests, went to The Clare Fischer Latin Jazz Big Band for "Ritmo!'' Bandleader and keyboardist Clare Fischer passed away in 2012.
Jamaica's Jimmy Cliff won the reggae award for "Rebirth.''
Adele, who dominated the 2012 Grammys, won for best pop solo performance for her live version of "Set Fire to the Rain.''