Flashback: Van Halen Play a Sizzling ‘Poundcake’ at the 1991 MTV VMAs

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1991 MTV Video Music Awards - Arrivals - Credit: Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images
1991 MTV Video Music Awards - Arrivals - Credit: Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images

MTV completely ignored its 40th anniversary when the milestone rolled around on August 1st, but at Sunday’s Video Music Awards, the network celebrated by roping in vintage stars such as Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Tommy Lee, Busta Rhymes, Avril Lavigne, and the boy-band trio of AJ McLean, Lance Bass, and Nick Lachey.

The capstone was David Lee Roth strutting onstage in leather chaps near the end of the night to present Video of the Year. “Look at all the people here tonight,” he said before giving the statue to Lil Nas X for “Montero (Call Me by Your Name).” “Ladies and gentlemen, this is the Video of the Year, the hook upon which we hang our memory of the whole year. And there’s some serious money in this motherfucker.”

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It was Roth’s first time presenting at the Video Music Awards since he made a rare appearance beside Sammy Hagar in 2002 to give Best Rock Video to Linkin Park for “In the End.” Amazingly, Roth has never actually performed at the Video Music Awards. He attended the inaugural ceremony on September 14th, 1984, but Van Halen finished their final tour with the classic lineup earlier that month and they didn’t play.

Two years later, once Sammy Hagar joined the band, they performed “Best of Both Worlds” and “Love Walks In” from a concert in Hartford, Connecticut. And in 1991, they finally appeared in person to kick off the evening with a sizzling rendition of “Poundcake.” Check out the video right here. This was near the peak of the Van Hagar era, but just five years later they showed up with David Lee Roth after parting ways with Hagar so the whole world could watch the reunion melt down on live television.

The David Lee Roth that presented an award to Lil Nas X is once again a man without a band due to the death of Eddie Van Halen last year. He tried to relaunch his solo career in early 2020 with a Las Vegas residency and a stint opening up for Kiss, but the pandemic wiped that all away after just a few weeks. It’s unclear if he plans on giving it another go, but at least MTV still has his phone number and he’s willing to break out the leather chaps when duty calls.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcABbx_pUCo?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=en-US&autohide=2&wmode=transparent&w=640&h=360]

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