From Axl Rose to Kanye West, The MTV Video Music Awards have always involved a bit of entertaining controversy. Since it’s almost time for the 2012 VMAs, we’ve decided to take a look back on the history of the big event. The very first VMAs were held at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall in 1984. The occasion was marked with a special show from Madonna, who performed ‘Like A Virgin’.
In 1988, Michael Jackson made his VMA debut, performing hit single ‘Bad’. He was also awarded the ‘Video Vanguard Award’ (which is now referred to as the ‘Michael Jackson Music Video Award’ or the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’).
Comedian Andrew Dice Clay attended the 1989 VMAs to promote his film The Adventures Of Ford Fairlane. His set included a series of vulgar nursery rhymes, which resulted in a “lifetime ban” from the event.
Guns N’ Roses guitarist Izzy Stradlin performed with Tom Petty at the 1989 VMAs. All went well, but following the ceremony, Stradlin was assaulted by Motley Crue’s Vince Neil (which then led to a verbal spat between Neil and Axl Rose).
Poison’s Bret Michaels and CC DeVille got into a fistfight at the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards, which ultimately led to DeVille getting sacked from the band and replaced by Richie Kotzen.
The 1991 VMAs also saw the last ever television appearance of KISS playing with Eric Carr (who died that November).
The 1992 VMAs saw some messy bickering. Courtney Love and Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl had been bothering Axl Rose, so in return, Rose challenged Kurt Cobain to a fight. Later on in the night, following Nirvana’s performance, Grohl went up to the microphone, egging on Axl by repeatedly saying “Hi Axl! Where’s Axl?”.
Continuing with the Rose-Cobain battle of 1992, the Nirvana frontman spat on the piano keys right before Guns N’ Roses took to the stage to perform ‘November Rain’. Little did he know that Elton John would be joining the band on piano and ended up being the victim.
At the 1994 VMAs, a recently-married Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley walked onstage, holding hands, to a standing ovation. “And just think, nobody thought this would last,” Jackson said as he kissed his wife. Presley, who divorced Jackson in 1996, later claimed that Jackson’s PR team insisted on the kiss.
The four original members of Van Halen received a standing ovation when they appeared together (for the first time since their April 1985 break up) at the 1996 VMAs. However, after presenting an award to Beck, there was some tension backstage between David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen, nearly leading to a big fight. A few weeks later, it was announced Roth would not be re-joining the band.
Half-way through the Foo Fighters’ 1997 VMA performance, guitarist Pat Smear announced that he was leaving the band, and he presented his replacement Franz Stahl (who had previously been a member of Scream with Dave Grohl).
Lil’ Kim shocked the world with her revealing choice of attire at the 1999 VMAs. When she appeared on stage with Mary J Blige and Diana Ross to present the Best Hip-Hop video award, Ross grabbed Lil’ Kim’s boob, shocking the crowd even more.
In 2001, Britney Spears offended PETA after she performed onstage with an albino Burmese Python on her shoulders and danced in a cage with a tiger. On a positive note, she was probably in the best shape of her life for that one.
One of the biggest, most unexpected shockers in VMA history came in 2003 when Madonna, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera arrived onstage dressed as brides and groom and shared a kiss.
2004 was the first year that the MTV Video Music Awards took place outside of NYC. They were instead held at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. 2004 was also the first VMA event to not have a host.
Although no animals were involved in this performance, Britney Spears still saw quite a lot of negative backlash for her 2007 VMA performance of ‘Gimme More’. It was considered to have forever crippled her career, as people thought she looked drunk, out-of-shape, and did a poor job attempting to lip-synch to the song.
Russell Brand took a stab at hosting the VMAs in 2008, but managed to offend most of America after he mocked the Jonas Brothers and their purity rings. Jordin Sparks then turned around and dissed the comedian: “I just have one thing to say about promise rings. It’s not bad to wear a promise ring because not everybody, guy or girl, wants to be a slut.”
That same year, Brand shocked the nation after he spoke in favour of presidential candidate Barack Obama and called President Bush a “retarded cowboy”, citing that he “wouldn’t be trusted with a pair of scissors in Britain”.
In 2009, Taylor Swift won Best Female video for ‘You Belong With Me’. During her acceptance speech, Kanye West unexpectedly jumped onstage and said: “Yo Tay, I’m really happy for you, and Imma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time. One of the best videos of all time!” President Obama later called West a “jackass” for his actions.
In 2010, Lady Gaga broke the record for most nominations in one show (clocking in with 13 of them), and took home eight awards. It’s a shame that she’ll instead forever be remembered for that awful meat dress.