It’s very difficult to pick a single highlight from the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards. U2 performed “Even Better Than the Real Thing” (by satellite) with Dana Carvey on drums, Nirvana played “Lithium” and Michael Jackson checked in from a tour stop in London with “Jam” and “Black or White.” Howard Stern descended from the rafters in his Fartman costume, and Kriss Kross and Magic Johnson presented Best Female Video. It’s probably the single greatest Video Music Awards in history.
The night wrapped up with Gun N’ Roses performing a nearly nine-minute “November Rain” with Elton John on piano. Axl Rose had been dodging homophobia accusations for years by this point, though he always went out of his way to praise Elton John. The influence of Elton’s work, particularly his 1973 opus “Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding,” is all over the two Use Your Illusion albums. It’s hard to imagine Axl writing “November Rain” had he never picked up a copy of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.
Two years after this performance, Rose inducted Elton into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “For myself as well as others, no one has been there more for inspiration than Elton John,” he said. “Also, when we talk about great rock duos like Jimmy Page and Robert, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Mick and Keith, I like to think of Elton John and Bernie Taupin. Also, tonight, I think Elton should be honored for his great work and contribution in the fight against AIDS. Also, his bravery in exposing all the triumphs and tragedies in his personal life. The knowledge of these things helps us get through things every day. When I first heard ‘Bennie and the Jets,’ I knew I had to be a performer.” It was Axl’s final public appearance for over six years.