Behind the Music

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Behind the Music
Behind the music.gif
Also known asVH1's Behind the Music
Created byJeff Gaspin
Gay Rosenthal
Narrated byJim Forbes
Country of originUnited States
No. of seasons15
No. of episodes244
Executive producersGay Rosenthal
Jeff Gaspin
George Moll
Running time60–90 minutes
Production companiesGay Rosenthal Productions
Paramount Television (select episodes)
ViacomCBS Networks International
DistributorViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks
Original networkVH1 (1997-2014)
Paramount+ (2021-present)
Original releaseAugust 17, 1997 (1997-08-17) –
External links

Behind the Music is a documentary television series on VH1. Each episode profiles and interviews a popular musical artist or group. The program examines the beginning of their career, their road to success, and the hardships they may have encountered.

In 2021, it was announced that the series would be rebooted by Paramount+, which premiered on July 29, 2021.


Each show focuses on a musician or musical group, documenting both the successes of the musicians and the problems they faced during their careers. Except for the first two episodes (which focused on Milli Vanilli and M.C. Hammer), all programs are narrated by Jim Forbes. Forbes was later used to narrate the Milli Vanilli episode when it was modified to include the death of Rob Pilatus. The UK airings of the episodes focusing on Thin Lizzy, Aerosmith and Genesis were narrated by Mary Anne Hobbs while Forbes narrated the US airings.

VH1's criterion for choosing the musicians who appear on the show is, in many cases, to profile those who are no longer in the music industry, or were moderately significant in rock history (although many are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame such as Neil Diamond, The Police, Metallica, AC/DC, Aerosmith among others). This is as opposed to VH1's other biography show, VH1's Legends, which profiles musicians that have been very significant to the industry. However, there are some artists that were profiled on both Behind The Music and Legends, including Tina Turner, Elton John, The Who (although their Behind the Music exclusively focused on their drummer Keith Moon), and John Lennon (although Behind The Music exclusively focused on the months and days leading to his murder in 1980).


While being interviewed by Rolling Stone in October 2000, co-creator and executive producer Gay Rosenthal explained "Jeff Gaspin, who’s the executive vice president of VH1, and I were at lunch, and we said, 'Whatever happened to Milli Vanilli?' I said, 'I don’t know, but why don’t you let me take the ball and run with it, and let me see what I can find out?' Milli Vanilli was hard. Nobody knew where they were. I had to be a private eye. I got a list of addresses where Fabrice had lived and sent letters to every address. Two weeks later, I got a call from Fabrice's manager. And then I spent a good two months with them – having dinner, having them at my house – before they agreed to do it. They didn't know if they wanted to relive the story, but I said, 'Listen, no one has heard your story from you. This will be a great opportunity to set the record straight.'"[1] "When we saw it in the edit room, we thought we had something special. The stories were working, and the series was green-lit." Rosenthal later stated in an August 1999 interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer.[2]


Another episode of Behind the Music on KISS was re-christened KISS: Beyond the Makeup in July 2001 (which was two hours in length). This featured Matt Pinfield, formerly of MTV's 120 Minutes, as narrator instead of Jim Forbes.

A short-lived half-hour spin-off series titled BTM2 (short for Behind the Music 2), chronicled the careers of newer upcoming artists.

A spin-off titled Behind the Music: Remastered on VH1 Classic airs the updated original episodes with new interviews, footage, and the later half of the artist's career. The series also included two original episodes on Deep Purple and Motörhead.

In September 2020, a spin-off known as MTV's Behind the Music: The Top 40 was announced for Paramount+, which was to feature a countdown of the 40 "biggest artists of all-time".[3] In March 2021, it was revealed via a promo aired during the Grammy Awards that the spin-off would instead be positioned as a full reboot of Behind The Music.[4] In May 2021, it was announced that the revival would premiere on July 29, 2021.[5]


The following is a list of artists who have appeared in episodes of the series:

Other features[edit]

Other than musicians, some episodes were documentaries on musical events, films, and non-musicians who were influential on the music world. The following appeared in episodes of the series:



Behind the Music was nominated for five Primetime Emmy Awards including the Outstanding Non-Fiction Series category for four constitutive years (2000-2003).

In 1999, the series won an ALMA Award for Outstanding Made-for-Television Documentary for the episode featuring Selena and in 2001, Behind the Music won a TV Guide Award for Music Series of the Year.

Behind the Music episodes received multiple nominations including a GLAAD Media Award nomination for Outstanding Film (Documentary) in 1998 for the episode featuring Boy George as well as multiple Image Awards for episodes featuring Tina Turner and Bob Marley.[7]

Similar VH1 programs[edit]

The following is a list of artists who have appeared in VH1 TV programs similar in format to Behind the Music but are not officially part of the series:

  • Chris Gaines (titled Behind the Life of Chris Gaines as it was a fictional artist played by Garth Brooks)[8]
  • Kiss (renamed KISS: Beyond the Makeup, 90 minutes in length)[9]
  • Pink Floyd (titled Pink Floyd: Behind the Wall, 50 minute documentary made in 2000 on The Wall album)[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Thomas, Harry. Q&A: Gay Rosenthal October 12, 2000.
  2. ^ Weiner, Jennifer. "Gay Rosenthal: The success story behind 'Behind the Music'", The Philadelphia Inquirer via
  3. ^ White, Peter (September 15, 2020). "'The Godfather' Making-Of Event Drama, Taylor Sheridan Spy Thriller, 'The Game' Reboot & 'Behind The Music' Revival Lead Paramount+ Original Slate". Deadline. Retrieved October 8, 2020.
  4. ^ Haring, Bruce (March 15, 2021). "'Behind The Music' First Look Spotlights J-Lo, LL Cool J, Ricky Martin And Huey Lewis As First In Series". Deadline. Retrieved May 17, 2021.
  5. ^ Choe, Brandon (May 16, 2021). "'Behind The Music' Gets Paramount+ Premiere Date – Watch The Trailer". Deadline Hollywood.
  6. ^ Hibberd, James. "Lil' Wayne, Scott Weiland on Board for VH1's Revived 'Behind The Music'". March 19, 2009.
  7. ^ IMDb IMDb - 'Behind the Music' Awards
  8. ^ Chris Gaines VH1 Behind The Music Part 1. October 30, 2014 – via YouTube.
  9. ^ Kiss VH1 Beyond The Makeup 2001. January 7, 2013 – via YouTube.
  10. ^ behind the wall doc. Vimeo.

External links[edit]