Cher, Madonna & More Stars at the First Ever MTV VMAs in 1984

When MTV first launched the Video Music Awards in 1984, it didn’t take long for the award show to solidify it’s reputation as one of the most provocative, dramatic and memorable events in the pop culture calendar.

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Most Memorable MTV VMA Moments Since the First Show in 1984

Since then the VMAs has given rise to many iconic moment from Britney Spears and Madonna’s kiss to Miley Cyrus’ twerking and everything in between, but even back in the day the show was iconic.

The show, both then and now, was intended to honor the best artists in the music video medium. The award show typically takes place at the end of August or early September. Winners of a VMA receive a highly-coveted statue of an astronaut on the moon, one of the earliest representations of MTV. The statue is colloquially called a “moonman.”

The first ever VMAs took place on September 4 at Radio City Music Hall in New York and honored musicians from Michael Jackson to Cyndi Lauper. Since then the show has taken place annually in venues across the US from LA to Miami.

Herbie Hancock was the show’s most-awarded artist, who took home five awards, followed by Michael Jackson, who won three for, you guessed it, “Thriller.” Madonna, Tina Turner and David Bowie were among the performers. Eddie Murphy, Mick Jagger and Belinda Carlisle were some of the stars on presenting duties. And the after-party was another star-studded affair.

Now, as stars take to the carpet for the 2023 MTV VMAs, let’s take a look back on the show that started it all.

  • Dan Aykroyd and Bette Midler

    Image Credit: AP

    Hosts of the night Aykroyd and Midler were all smiles on the big night. Aykroyd had just starred in Ghostbusters, the top-grossing film of the year, and Midler was at the height of her music and comedy career so both were a logical choice for hosting duties. 

  • Madonna

    Image Credit: AP

    Madonna wasted no time in kickstarting the VMAs reputation for boundary-pushing content with her performance on the night.

    The singer sang “Like A Virgin,” emerging from the top of a 17-foot wedding cake in a bustier that was rather provocative for the time. As she descended down steps, her white stilettos slipped off leading to a rather scandalous wardrobe malfunction.

    “So I thought, ‘Well, I’ll just pretend I meant to do this,’ and I dove on the floor and I rolled around,” Madonna reflected on the incident later, according to Billboard. “And, as I reached for the shoe, the dress went up. And the underpants were showing.”

  • Cyndi Lauper

    Image Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Cyndi Lauper looked fierce and triumphant posed with her award for Best Female Video for “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.”

  • Eddie Murphy, Joe Piscopo

    Image Credit: AP

    Comedians Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo were full of laughs as they presented the Video of the Year award which was picked up by The Cars for their “You Might Think” music video.

  • Billy Idol

    Image Credit: AP

    Rock star Billy Idol garnered five nominations for “Dancing with Myself” and “Eyes Without a Face” but didn’t manage to take home any awards. 

  • Cher

    Image Credit: Ron Galella Collection via Getty

    Cher is pictured here on her way to the VMAs after party sporting a daring blonde pixie cut that was a stark difference from her usual long, dark hair. 

  • Alice Cooper and Sheryl Cooper

    Image Credit: Ron Galella Collection via Getty

    Alice Cooper and Sheryl Cooper also attended the after-party at Hard Rock Cafe in New York City.

    The couple married in 1974 and are still going strong today but 1984 was a particularly monumental year for them as it was the year they reconciled after Sheryl filed for divorce in 1983.

  • Robert Downey Jr., Anthony Michael Hall, David Lee Roth and Sonia Braga

    Image Credit: Ron Galella Collection via Getty

    Actors Robert Downey Jr., Anthony Michael Hall and Sonia Braga were joined by rockstar David Lee Roth to pull up to the after-party in style.

  • Ron Wood and Josephine Wood

    Image Credit: Ron Galella Collection via Getty

    The Rolling Stones’ guatarist Ron Wood is photographed here with his then-wife Josephine Wood during the after-party.

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