About the Show
Friday, September 11, 1987
After the scattered, multi-venue event of the year prior, the 1987 Video Music Awards settled down into just one place: the city of angels.
While part of the 1986 show was held at Los Angeles' Universal Amphitheatre (now known as the Gibson Amphitheatre), in 1987 the venue became home to the show, literally. It housed the VMAs until 1993 (with just one year off for a visit to UCLA's Pauley Pavilion), so we got cozy in the cradle of Hollywood and started throwing bashes in a town known for serious throwdowns.
Once again MTV opted for a full roster of homegrown talent to handle the hosting chores. With all of the original stable of MTV VJs now gone, it was up to "Downtown" Julie Brown, Dweezil Zappa and Kevin Seal, as well as MTV Japan's Michael Tomioka, to hold down the fort. And in 1987, that wasn't easy, as we dished out a raft of extraordinary performances and the most impressive single artist Moonman tally in VMA history (a record that still stands through the 2006 awards).
A veritable statuette manufacturing plant was opened up backstage to handle the production of Moonmen for Peter Gabriel. The former Genesis singer was the night's biggest winner with nine awards for his iconic "Sledgehammer" video, a stunning piece of animation that remains one of the best MTV has ever aired. Among the honors Peter took with him that night were Best Male Video, Best Overall Performance, Video of the Year, as well as the Most Experimental Video trophy and the hugely important Video Vanguard Award. Respect.
But despite mighty impressive Gabriel's Moonman haul, it was U2 who walked away with the Viewer's Choice Award for "With or Without You." And 1987 was also the year that Bon Jovi won the Best Stage Performance Moonman for their enduring hit "Livin' on a Prayer."
As had by then become the norm, the MTV Video Music Awards once again ratcheted up the performance factor, shaking the Gibson Amphitheatre to its foundations. In 1987, Run DMC and Aerosmith rocked their cross-genre classic remake of "Walk This Way." Canada was represented as Bryan Adams melted the hearts of every single female viewer -- and pissed off a few of their boyfriends -- with his ode to heartbreak, "Victim of Love."
And last, but certainly not least, it was the year that Whitney Houston's star shone brightly as she belted out her breakthrough single, "I Wanna Dance With Somebody." Oh, sweet pre-Bobby Brown Whitney, we do so miss you.