Behind the Music

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Behind the Music
Also known asVH1's Behind the Music
Created byJeff Gaspin
Gay Rosenthal
Narrated byJim Forbes
Country of originUnited States
No. of seasons17
No. of episodes259
Executive producersGay Rosenthal
Jeff Gaspin
George Moll
Running time60–90 minutes
Production companiesGay Rosenthal Productions
Paramount Television (select episodes)
Paramount International Networks
Original release
ReleaseAugust 17, 1997 (1997-08-17) –
July 16, 2014 (2014-07-16)
ReleaseJuly 29, 2021 (2021-07-29) –
  • BTM2 (2000)
  • Behind the Music: Remastered (2010–13)

Behind the Music is a documentary television series that initially aired on VH1 and streams on Paramount+ since July 2021. Each episode profiles and interviews a popular musical artist or group, examining career beginnings, roads to success and any resultant hardships.


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 different to VH1's other biography show, VH1's Legends, which profiles musicians who were very significant to the industry. Some artists were profiled on Behind The Music and Legends, including Tina Turner, Elton John, Keith Moon, and John Lennon (Behind The Music exclusively focused on the months before his 1980 murder).


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]

Spin-offs and revival[edit]

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.

In June, 2000, VH1 aired the BBC produced Behind the Music like program on Pink Floyd entitled Behind The Wall which coincided with the release of Is There Anybody Out There? The Wall Live 1980-81 and focused on the making of The Wall, concerts that went with it and Pink Floyd The Wall film and had interviews with the band members and it featured no narration.

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

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

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, seven years after the last episode had aired on July 16, 2014.[4] In May 2021, it was announced that the revival would premiere on July 29, 2021, with two episodes. Similar to the original series and Behind the Music: Remastered, it includes both new episodes and updated versions of past ones.[5]


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

Years, events and non-musicians[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]

In popular culture[edit]


  • In the 2001 movie Josie and the Pussycats, it is explained that Behind the Music was created as a result of how bands are "dealt with" if they discover the fact they are involved in the government's subliminal message program.



  • Adult Swim's Robot Chicken did a skit where the Muppet band, Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, was profiled on Behind the Music.
  • The Family Guy episode "Herpe the Love Sore" begins with Peter and Lois watching an episode of Behind the Music about the Electric Mayhem.
  • In the made-for-television film A Diva's Christmas Carol starring Vanessa L. Williams, the character of Ebony * Scrooge watches her own episode near the end. This episode, filling the role as the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, chronicles the life and tragic death in an ominous manner to force Ebony to change her ways.
  • In the Duck Dodgers episode "In Space, No One Can Hear You Rock", Dodgers plays a recorded episode of "Behind The Metal" about Dave Mustaine which is a parody of the Megadeth episode of "Behind the Music".
  • In the Family Guy episode "The Thin White Line", Brian explains to his psychiatrist: "You wanna know how pathetic my life is?" I've seen that 'Behind the Music' with Leif Garrett eighteen times." A subsequent cutaway gag is shown with a briefly shown animated recreation of the episode, and then cuts to Brian on the couch lip-synching to the dialogue.
  • In the Friends episode "The One with the Joke", Chandler tells Joey: "Dude, you have got to turn on Behind The Music. The band Heart is having a really tough time, and I think they may break up."
  • An episode of The Man Show showed a parody of Behind the Music with the band Korn, called "Beneath the Music". It showed the two hosts as ex-members of the band but later being kicked out because of their antics.
  • A late episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 features a skit parodying Behind the Music about an unnamed band featured in that episode's movie, Track of the Moon Beast; the writers christened them "The Band That Played 'California Lady'", after the apparent title of the song they performed in the film.
  • Saturday Night Live's "More Cowbell" sketch was a fictitious episode profiling Blue Öyster Cult. SNL would go on to do various skits that parodied BTM including Fat Albert, "The Super Bowl Shuffle", Joan Jett, "Rock and Roll Heaven", John Oates, and Colin Hay.
  • An episode of Conan aired a parody of Behind the Music featuring the Star Wars Cantina Band.
  • The show was parodied on the South Park episode "Terrance and Phillip: Behind the Blow" as well as in the episode "Chef Aid: Behind the Menu", which also featured Jim Forbes as narrator.
  • On the show Still Standing, Bill Miller and his sister-in-law's new boyfriend sit in a bar and watch part of an episode of Behind The Music.
  • An episode of What's New, Scooby-Doo? had a spoof of the show, called "Rewind the Music".
  • An episode of The Simpsons entitled "Behind the Laughter" was done in the style of "Behind the Music". It even used the show's theme music and narrator.
  • The sixteenth episode of the fourth season of The Jamie Foxx Show had a spoof of the show, called "Behind the Jingle".
  • In the fifteenth episode of the eighth season of How I Met Your Mother, "P.S. I Love You", a parody of Behind the Music was used, named Underneath the Tunes, about the transformation of Robin Sparkles into Robin Daggers.
  • Behind the Music was one of the programs which was discussed on I Love the '90s: Part Deux.


  • The show is also the base for the running parody Behind the Music that Sucks, which has been produced by Internet humor site since 1998.
  • The flash animation collaboration based on the Super Mario franchise, Bowser's Kingdom on parodied Behind the Music in the tenth episode "Bowser's Kingdom: Behind the Kingdom".
  • In order to promote his full-length film, internet comedian Stuart Ashen released a parody called Behind the Tat.


  • A Chex Mix campaign featuring The Backstreet Boys entitled "Sound Checks- The Story of Snackstreet" borrows heavily from the Behind The Music format.

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.[dead YouTube link]
  9. ^ Kiss VH1 Beyond The Makeup 2001. January 7, 2013. Archived from the original on December 21, 2021 – via YouTube.
  10. ^ behind the wall doc – via Vimeo.

External links[edit]