The singer/songwriter was named Male Vocalist of the Year and New Male Vocalist of the Year, and he was also handed accolades for Song of the Year for Nobody to Blame and the coveted Album of the Year prize for Traveller.

Chris and his rising popularity were even the subject of the ceremony's opening skit, in which multiple artists attempted to prove they were the reason for his success, because they had known him the longest.

Thomas Rhett and Charles Kelley stood up from the audience boasting their early association with Stapleton, but it was Carrie Underwood who had the last laugh as she held up a bedazzled Chris Stapleton fan t-shirt she supposedly bought in 1978 - the same year Chris was born.

Just behind Chris with two awards was Miranda Lambert, who nabbed the Female Vocalist of the Year trophy for the seventh consecutive year, as well as the Vocal Event of the Year for Smokin' And Drinkin' featuring Little Big Town, who also scored two prizes.

Upon winning the Vocal Group of the Year honour, singer Kimberly Schlapman also joked about Chris Stapleton's breakthrough year, thanking him for "not being a group".

Meanwhile, Jason Aldean also had a big night as he won his first-ever Entertainer of the Year trophy, noting he never thought the prize was "in the cards" for him, but the evening was "one of the best nights of his professional career".

The ceremony kicked off with a performance from Luke Bryan, who was surprised when his co-host for the event for the past three years, Blake Shelton, unexpectedly took the stage to join in singing Luke's Huntin', Fishin' and Lovin' Every Day track. Blake bowed out of the co-hosting gig this year and was replaced by Dierks Bentley.

Other performers included Stapleton and his wife Morgane, Carrie Underwood, Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney, Charles Kelley and Eric Church, who paid tribute to his late musical heroes David Bowie, Lemmy, Scott Weiland and Glenn Frey.

Tragic country star Joey Feek was also honoured, as the audience gave her a stirring round of applause and standing ovation just weeks after she lost her battle with cancer.

There were also special performances from Miranda Lambert, Keith Urban and Billy Gibbons, who collaborated on ZZ Top's hit Tush, while Kelsea Ballerini and Nick Jonas teamed up to sing her song Peter Pan.

The most memorable pairing came from Dolly Parton and Katy Perry, who presented the country music icon with the Tex Ritter Award for the success of her recent TV movie, Coat of Many Colors, which was a big hit when it debuted in the U.S. in December (15).

A cowgirl-dressed Katy joked she and Dolly are both known for "the biggest... songs in our fields," then later joined forces with the star to sing a medley of her hits Coat of Many Colors, Jolene and 9 to 5.

The 51st annual ACM Awards were handed out at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

The full list of winners is:

Entertainer of the Year: Jason Aldean

Male Vocalist of the Year: Chris Stapleton

Female Vocalist of the Year: Miranda Lambert

Vocal Group of the Year: Little Big Town

Album of the Year: Traveller by Chris Stapleton

Song of the Year: Nobody to Blame by Chris Stapleton

Single Record of the Year: Die A Happy Man by Thomas Rhett

New Male Vocalist of the Year: Chris Stapleton

New Female Vocalist of the Year: Kelsea Ballerini

New Vocal Duo or Group of the Year: Old Dominion

Vocal Duo of the Year: Florida Georgia Line

Vocal Event of the Year: Smokin' And Drinkin' by Miranda Lambert featuring Little Big Town

Video of the Year: Mr. Misunderstood by Eric Church.