R.E.M. won four MTV Video Music Awards and Aerosmith took three, including video of the year, during Thursday night's program that opened with Michael and Lisa Marie Presley-Jackson making their first live TV appearance as husband and wife.
Nirvana won the art direction and alternative music prizes, and upon getting the second award, Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl referred to singer Kurt Cobain's suicide earlier this year:
"It would be silly to say it doesn't feel like something's missing. I think about Kurt every day."
Later in the show, bassist Krist Novocelic introduced a special video montage shown as a paean to Cobain's work.
Aerosmith also won the group award as well as the viewers' choice award for "Cryin'," while the dance and R&B; awards went to "Whatta Man" by Salt-N-Pepa, featuring En Vogue. And Counting Crows were selected best new artist in a video for "Mr. Jones."
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were voted best male video for "Mary Jane's Last Dance" and Petty himself took home the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award for his overall career.
As the 11th annual program went on the air, the announcer intoned: "Please welcome Mr. and Mrs. Michael Jackson."
Out walked the newlyweds--and Jackson welcomed everyone to the show as his smiling bride looked on.
"I'm very happy to be here. And just think, nobody thought this would last," said Jackson, who then planted a big kiss on his wife to the squealing delight of the crowd.
They kept it in the family for the night's first award. Jackson's sister Janet snagged the female video prize for "If." She resisted any temptation she may have had to comment on her brother and new sister-in-law's kickoff to the show, just offering the usual thanks instead.
The night ended with another unlikely couple--late-night talk show host David Letterman and Madonna. She had left Letterman nonplussed when she had to be bleeped at least a dozen times during a guest spot on his show earlier this year. He has taken jokey jabs at her antics many times since.
Their joint appearance made it look like things were patched up, though he left her to present the video of the year award by herself.
The presenters of the rap prize--which went to Snoop Doggy Dogg's "Doggy Dogg World"--injected some politics into the affair.
With Flavor Flav's gyrating help, Chuck D averred that rap was no fad--as some people suggested--and that it offers a political forum.
Chuck D said the United States had its own political prisoners and they should be freed. Among those he named: former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson, who's serving time in an Indiana prison for rape.
More boos than cheers arose from the audience.
In presenting a lifetime achievement award to the Rolling Stones, Rolling Stone magazine publisher Jann Wenner talked about how much the enduring rock band had meant to him throughout his life.
"They've inspired me in word and deeds. I took their name for my magazine. And they mean more to me now than ever. I'm a total stone-cold Stones fan, and proud of it," Wenner said.
That provoked Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger to joke:
"Without us, Jann, the magazine might have been called the Herman's Hermits Monthly."
He then offered heartfelt thanks, concluding: "We've been doing this now for 30 years. It's a good way of making a living. I think we'll just keep on doing it."
Performing between the acceptance speeches was a musical smorgasbord: the Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Petty, the Beastie Boys, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Stone Temple Pilots, Boyz II Men, Salt-N-Pepa, Green Day and Smashing Pumpkins.
Roseanne was the master of ceremonies.
MTV Video Award Winners
These are the winners of the MTV Video Music Awards:
Top video of the year: Aerosmith, "Cryin' "
Best Male Video: Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, "Mary Jane's Last Dance"
Best Female Video: Janet Jackson, "If"
Best Group Video: Aerosmith, "Cryin' "
Best Rap Video: Snoop Doggy Dogg, "Doggy Dogg World"
Best Dance Video: Salt-N-Pepa/En Vogue, "Whatta Man"
Best Metal/Hard Rock Video: Soundgarden, "Black Hole Sun"
Best Alternative Music Video: Nirvana, "Heart-Shaped Box"
Best New Artist in a Video: Counting Crows, "Mr. Jones"
Best Video from a Film: Bruce Springsteen, "Streets of Philadelphia" (from the movie "Philadelphia")
Best R&B; Video: Salt-N-Pepa/En Vogue, "Whatta Man"
Best Video--MTV Brazil: Sepultura, "Territory"
Best Video--MTV Europe: Take That, "Babe"
Best Video--MTV Japan: Hide, "Eyes Love You"
Best Video--MTV Latino: Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, "Matador"
Best Direction in a Video: R.E.M., "Everybody Hurts," Jake Scott
Best Choreography in a Video: Salt-N-Pepa/En Vogue, "Whatta Man," Frank Gatson, Randy Connors
Best Special Effects in a Video: Peter Gabriel, "Kiss That Frog," Brett Leonard, Angel Studios
Best Art Direction in a Video: Nirvana, "Heart-Shaped Box," Bernadette DiSanto
Best Editing in a Video: R.E.M., "Everybody Hurts," Pat Sheffield
Best Cinematography in a Video: R.E.M., "Everybody Hurts," Harris Savides
Best Breakthrough Video: R.E.M., "Everybody Hurts," Jake Scott, director