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Prince is MTV Video Music Awards royalty: A history

Prince performing "Gett Off" at the 1991 Video Music Awards. This was the most appropriate image of it we could acquire.
Prince performing "Gett Off" at the 1991 Video Music Awards. This was the most appropriate image of it we could acquire.

The 2012 MTV Video Music Awards take place this evening. For almost 30 years, the show has honored the best clips that the medium of music video has had to offer. Of course, no conversation about music videos would be complete without the purple Yoda we affectionally know as Prince.

A fixture of the channel for much of the '80s and '90s, the Purple One's 20 year presence at the awards resulted in eight nominations, three wins and one historic performance. We've rounded up his most celebrated clips from the show, as well as his landmark 1991 take on "Gett Off" in our look back at what makes Prince one of the greatest video artists of all time.

"When Doves Cry" Nominated in 1985 for Best Choreography in a Video


- When Doves Cry by tressage

Prince received his first Video Music Award nomination hot off the heels of Purple Rain becoming both an event and an incredible influence on the network. While he unfortunately lost to Elton John's "Sad Songs Say So Much," he would prove to have better luck in the years to come.

"Raspberry Beret" Won in 1986 for Best Choreography in a Video


Raspberry Beret - Prince by abelflexes

Prince took home his first Moonman with "Raspberry Beret." Winning for Best Choreography (for a video he directed and choreographed himself) the clip later made its way to the Video Music Awards' first home video release. Keep an eye open for a young dreadlocked Foo Fighter Pat Smear dancing along.

"U Got the Look" Won in 1988 for Best Male and Best Stage Performance Video


(1987) U Got The Look by Princelicous

Winning two awards was "U Got the Look." Directed by David Hogan (who later directed the Pamela Anderson film Barb Wire ), "U Got the Look" became Prince's biggest winner at the VMAs. Over the next decade he received three more nominations for "Batdance" (1990), "Cream" (1992) and "7" (1993).

"Gett Off" 1991 Performance


Prince - Get Off [Live] by Vilosophe

This is the performance that made any mention of Prince on the network truly inseparable from referencing his butt. Joined by the New Power Generation, Prince took the VMA's extravagance to unforgettable new heights, donning an assless yellow spandex that was later further immortalized on the network's "Celebrity Deathmatch."

"Musicology" Nominated in 2004 for Best Male Video


MUSICOLOGY by DDG177Kongo

After a decade without nominations, Prince got a VMA nod in 2004 for "Musicology." The fun Sanaa Hamri directed-video returned the artist formally known as The Artist to regular rotation on the network. While the clip ultimately lost to Usher's "Yeah," its nomination further cemented Prince's reputation as one of the all time great video artists.


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