Ashanti, Nelly Big Winners At Billboard Awards

Nickelback, Creed, Puddle of Mudd, Eminem, Moby also take home multiple awards.

Ashanti scored big at the 2002 Billboard Music Awards, held Monday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, winning eight awards, including Female Artist of the Year, Top New Pop Artist of the Year and R&B/Hip-Hop Single of the Year for her smash “Foolish.”

Nelly ran a close second to the Murder Inc. princess, clocking a total of six wins, among them Rap Track of the Year for “Hot in Herre,” Hot 100 Singles Male Artist of the Year and the universally celebrated Artist of the Year.

A trio of rockers took home four awards apiece. Nickelback’s unforgettable single “How You Remind Me” picked up Hot 100 Single of the Year and Hot 100 Airplay Single of the Year and Top 40 Track of the Year, while the Vancouver quartet itself captured the Hot 100 Singles Group/Duo of the Year. Creed, coming off a less-than-crowd-pleasing performance at the KROQ holiday festival (see “Audioslave Deliver Like Santa Claus, Creed Booed At Radio Show” ), were named Group/Duo of the Year, Group/Duo Albums Artist of the Year, Catalog Artist of the Year and, for their second LP, 1999′s Human Clay, Catalog Album of the Year.

Before performing their current single “She Hates Me,” Puddle of Mudd accepted the award for Rock Artist of the Year from surprise guest Fred Durst, who signed them to his Flawless imprint. The band also nabbed trophies for Modern Rock Artist of the Year, and both Rock Track and Modern Rock Track of the Year for “Blurry.”

Eminem, who usually cleans house at awards shows, left with just two statuettes: Album of the Year and R&B/Hip-Hop Album of the Year for The Eminem Show. The gentle Moby, a regular target of Eminem’s flames, also nabbed two awards, for Electronic Albums Artist of the Year and Electronic Album of the Year (for 18).

A tribute to Jam Master Jay closed the show, with Nelly, Busta Rhymes, Ja Rule, Naughty by Nature, Queen Latifah and Aerosmith’s Joe Perry and Steven Tyler all recognizing the achievements of the late Run-DMC DJ through a song medley.

Non-competitive honors were bestowed on Eurythmics’ Annie Lennox, who was given the Century Award; Cher, presented with the award for Artist Achievement; and Michael Jackson, whose 1982 album Thriller spent more weeks at #1 than any other album in the history of the Billboard albums chart, earning him the Billboard Award.

Performances that were sprinkled throughout the event came courtesy of Avril Lavigne, Nelly and the St. Lunatics, Creed, Justin Timberlake (staying seated onstage during his performance due to his broken foot), Puddle of Mudd and Faith Hill.