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The Best Moments From 40 Years of American Music Awards

Guns N’ Roses’ profane acceptance speech, Justin and Britney’s matching outfits and more

dick clark american music awards

Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage

Dick Clark created the American Music Awards in 1973 as a populist response to the Grammys. While other awards are decided by an organization of music industry employees, the AMAs were designed to reflect the preferences of the music-buying public.

Eddie Murphy, Michael Jackson, American Music Awards

Courtesy of The American Music Awards


Michael Jackson and Eddie Murphy onstage during the 16th Annual American Music Awards in Los Angeles on January 9th, 1989.

Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage(Timberlake), Frank Micelotta/ABC/Getty


After turning up with Justin Timberlake in matching denim outfits, Britney Spears stripped into something a little more comfortable for her performance.

M. Caulfield/WireImage


Eminem was the big winner with four awards, but didn't make it to the show — 8 Mile co-star Mekhi Phifer accepted for him, swearing Em was on his cellphone.

Frank Micelotta/Getty


Anna Nicole Smith was not in top form for her AMAs appearance, slurring her words and becoming the subject of several jokes during the show.

Lester Cohen/WireImage (Jermaine), Kevin Mazur/AMA2009/WireImage (Janet)


Janet Jackson opened the show with a medley, and later paid tribute to her late brother Michael by joining in a dance number and performing their duet, "Scream."

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