Before success on his own, the bearded, Kentucky-born singer wrote or co-wrote six number one hits for some of country's biggest stars. His 2015 debut studio album "Traveller" also won a Grammy Award earlier this year for Best Country Album.
In other major awards, Jason Aldean won Entertainer of the Year. Miranda Lambert won the Female Vocalist of the Year Award and took the stage to perform "Tush" with Keith Urban and ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons.
The Country Music awards show held in Las Vegas got off to a raucous start with co-host Luke Bryan performing "Huntin', Fishin' And Lovin' Every Day." He was later joined on stage by Blake Shelton, with whom he had co-hosted the awards since 2013.
This year, Shelton was replaced by Dierks Bentley. When Bentley came on stage with Bryan, Shelton joined in and said: "Good luck tonight boys."
He then turned to Bryan and said, "You're a dumbass."
Bentley and Bryan then joked about how everyone in Nashville wanted to take credit for Stapleton's success.
Country music legend Dolly Parton also took to the stage to perform a melody of "Coat of Many Colors," "Jolene" and "9 to 5" with pop music giant Katy Perry.
Eric Church, in a performance of his song "Record Year," paid tribute to musicians who died in the past year including David Bowie, Stone Temple Pilots vocalist Scott Weiland, Motorhead bass player Lemmy and Eagles guitarist and vocalist Glenn Frey.
Kelsea Ballerini won the New Female Vocalist of the Year award.
Thomas Rhett won Single Record of the Year with the song "Die a Happy Man."
Florida Georgia Line won the Vocal Duo of the Year while Little Big Town won Vocal Group of the Year.
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(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Editing by Andrew Hay and Michael Perry)
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