Madonna, Kesha, Dion rule the stage at emotional Billboard Awards

LAS VEGAS: Madonna paid tribute to Prince, Kesha earned a standing ovation for her stirring rendition of "It Ain't Me, Babe" honoring Bob Dylan, and Celine Dion dedicated her Icon award to her late husband at Sunday night's emotion-packed Billboard Music Awards.

The three-hour live telecast from Las Vegas stuck to its tradition of a performance-heavy annual show featuring top recording stars in spectacular production numbers.

Britney Spears kicked things off, dazzling in a daring red outfit for a medley of her hits.

Canadian singer The Weeknd dedicated the first award to Prince, the Grammy-winning pop superstar best known for such hits as "Purple Rain" and "Let's Go Crazy," who died at his Minnesota home in April aged 57.

"I want to dedicate this award to the late great Prince," The Weeknd (real name Abel Tesfaye), said in accepting the Top Hot 100 Artist award.