Kevin Mazur

Michael Jackson's Greatest VMA Moments Will Give You Butterflies

Rock with us on MJ's birthday.

LOS ANGELES -- The annual pop culture ritual that is the VMAs is about epic moments if nothing else. You remember where you were when Miley backed it way up on Robin Thicke. You gasped when Madonna played a game of suck-and-blow with the heirs to the pop throne. You stood at attention when 100 bottle-blond Slim Shadys marched in lockstep across your screen. And even if you aren't old enough to have seen the 1994 VMAs when Michael Jackson and wife Lisa-Marie Presley opened the awards show, by now the image of the couple's adorably awkward onstage kiss is probably familiar to you.

But the King of Pop -- who would have turned 57 today (August 29) -- didn't need stunts to create enduring Video Music Awards memories. He just needed to be Michael, all liquid limbs and floaty falsetto. It's fitting that the man who immortalized the Moonwalk would become synonymous with the Moonman. In honor of the fallen icon's birthday and Sunday night's show, we revisited just a few of our favorite MJ moments.

  1. Michael accepted the 1988 Video Vanguard Award after an introduction from talk-show host Arsenio Hall, who was rocking a period-appropriate leather suit.

    Past and future Vanguard recipients like Beyonce and Kanye are definitely walking in this man's signature black loafers.

  2. Do you Remember the Time the King of Pop joined 'NSYNC onstage for 'Pop' at the 2001 VMAs?

    He didn't sing that night -- he didn't have to. Jackson was mesmerizing in his surprise performance, showing the synchronized boy band what made him king in the first place.

  3. Viewers were either cringing or clapping when pop music royalty-cum-newlyweds opened the 1994 VMAs with a sloppy smooch.

    But really that was nothing compared to their next (semi-nude) collaboration.

  4. The 1995 VMAs were all about Jackson, who kicked off the show with a 15-minute medley that can only be described as epic.

    Yes, epic.

  5. Janet Jackson executed the ultimate sister act in a 2009 tribute performance to the singer that made us want to scream "gone to soon!"

    Jackson had died suddenly only months earlier when his baby sister performed their smash duet and brought down the house.