MTV has honored Madonna, Britney Spears, Kanye West and more legendary artists with the Video Vanguard Award at the Video Music Awards.
David Bowie was the first artist to receive the top honor at the inaugural VMAs in 1984. Seven years later, the network renamed the award to honor Michael Jackson, who was presented the Moon Person in 1988. The name was once again changed in 2019 after Jackson came under fire for sexual abuse allegations in HBO’s Leaving Neverland documentary, with all mentions of the late performer removed from the awards’ website and 2019 broadcast. (Jackson, who died in 2009, denied all allegations against him in the past.)
At the 36th annual VMAs, Missy Elliott made history as the first female rap artist to accept the Vanguard Award, which is not presented every year. In 2018, Jennifer Lopez became the first Latin artist to win the award. Shakira, for her part, will become the first South American artist to take home the honor at the 2023 ceremony.
Scroll through to revisit some of the most memorable Video Vanguard Award winners over the years.