LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The 54th annual Grammy Awards pulled in big numbers for CBS, garnering the highest ratings for the show since 1984, the network said Monday.

The broadcast delivered 39 million viewers, according to Nielsen. It was the second largest Grammy audience in history.

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Fueled by star performances by Adele, who returned to the stage following throat surgery in 2011 and picked up six statues, and Chris Brown’s first Grammy appearance since his domestic violence case with former girlfriend Rhianna stemming from Grammy weekend in 2010, the show drew in audiences from around the world.

But what perhaps fueled people to tune in was the untimely death of six-time Grammy winner Whitney Houston. Her death cast a shadow over the awards show.

Houston died unexpectedly Saturday afternoon at the Beverly Hilton, just hours before her mentor Clive Davis’ annual pre-awards show bash.

Officials have not determined what killed the singer.

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Several stars paid tribute to Houston, including Alicia Keys, Stevie Wonder and LL Cool J.

“There is no way around this. We’ve had a death in our family, and so at least for me, the only thing that feels right is to begin with a prayer for a woman we love, for our fallen sister, Whitney Houston,” Grammy host LL Cool J said as he opened the telecast.

The biggest tribute came from Jennifer Hudson who stole the show with a piano-backed rendition of Houston’s 1992 cover of “I Will Always Love You” from “The Bodyguard.”

Hudson ended her performance by saying, “Whitney, we will always love you.”

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