Photos from the first MTV Video Music Awards & Afterparties in 1984

No one was sure what to expect at the inaugural MTV Video Music Awards, held at New York’s Radio City Music Hall on September 14, 1984.

The show seemed likely to have a younger, hipper vibe than the Grammy Awards or the American Music Awards. But no one could have foreseen it Madonna would steal the show with a daring performance of “Like a Virgin” that would have broken the internet if such a thing had existed at the time.

Dan Aykroyd and Bette Midler co-hosted the show. It might seem like an odd choice, but it made sense in the context of the time. Aykroyd appeared in ghost hunters, which was the highest-grossing film of the year. Midler’s 1983 album No frills had highlighted his rock side, with his covers of songs by The Rolling Stones and Marshall Crenshaw.

Cyndi Lauper had the most nominations – nine – but only won one award, Best Female Video for ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’. Even so, the exposure on the show no doubt helped her win the Grammy for Best New Artist the following February.

Herbie Hancock won the most awards – five – for his offbeat hit “Rockit”. He had won a Grammy for Best R&B Instrumental Performance in February 1984.

This gallery of 17 vintage photos from the show and afterparties will take you all back, if you were alive at the time, or tell you what was going on at this hip new awards show, if you weren’t.

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Author: Michel Calcagno


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