Back in the mid-‘90s, VH1 was in a rut. While MTV was the hip older brother, VH1 struggled to find its voice. Then Pop-Up Video, Divas, and a few other kitschy programs saw the network attract a wider audience. It wasn’t until Behind The Music that VH1 became must-see TV for music fans.
Narrated by the unmistakable Jim Forbes, the program chronicled the highs and lows of musicians. Though somewhat formulaic with its structure (artist is picked on as a kid, moves to big city, artist meets collaborator, artist has success, something bad happens, artist bottoms out, artist figures it out, artist rebounds), the stories remained captivating.
Starting in 1997 with its profile of Milli Vanilli, the show became a go-to show for dedicated music fans with its iconic title card that featured silhouettes of a band with the words fame, fortune, glory, success, heartbreak, and passion scrolling across the screen. It was later immortalized on Saturday Night Live with its Blue Öyster Cult spoof, which famously featured Will Ferrell on cowbell.
Many of the stories highlighted on Behind The Music were known within a small circle of insiders. In fact, the series was the first time that many of the tales became wider public knowledge. In honor of the show’s 20th anniversary, we’re taking a look back at some of the wildest and most shocking moments in its storied history.