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.
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).
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.
Behind the Music came to be after Paul Gallagher and George Moll produced a one-hour special entitled Dying in Vein which first aired on VH1 in December 1996. While Dying in Vein was a magazine style show, its approach to storytelling served as the prototype for Behind the Music.
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. Motörhead and Deep Purple are the only all-original Remastered episodes despite not having a Behind the Music episode.
The following is a list of artists who have appeared in episodes of the series:
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:
Similar VH1 programs
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)
- Kiss (renamed KISS: Beyond the Makeup, 90 minutes in length)
- Pink Floyd (titled "Pink Floyd: Behind the Wall", 50 minute documentary made in 2000 on The Wall album)
In popular culture
- In the 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, The Electric Mayhem, was profiled on Behind the Music.
- 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.
- The show was parodied on the South Park episode "Terrance and Phillip: Behind the Blow". As well as the episode "Chef Aid: Behind the Menu", which also featured Jim Forbes as narrator.
- On the show Still Standing, Bill 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.
- The Simpsons episode "Behind the Laughter" was done in the style of Behind the Music. It even used the show's theme music and narrator.
- An episode of The Jamie Foxx Show Season 4, Episode 16 had a spoof of the show, called Behind the Jingle.
- In How I Met Your Mother season 8, episode 15, a parody of Behind the Music was used, named Underneath the Tunes, about the transformation of Robin Sparkles into Robin Daggers.
- CMT aired its own country music version of the show, Inside Fame, which premiered in 2001 and ended in 2005, but was recently brought back in 2014. The series would chronicle the lives of country music stars, and on occasion, rockers like John Mellencamp.
- The show is also the base for the running parody Behind the Music that Sucks, which has been produced by Internet humor site Heavy.com since 1998.
- The flash animation collaboration based on the Super Mario franchise, Bowser's Kingdom on Newgrounds.com 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.