How’s this for karma? At Thursday night’s raucous MTV Video Music Awards, big winner Eminem was booed by the audience before walking away with four trophies at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. But even the perennially controversial rapper couldn’t overshadow the most jaw-dropping moment of the night: a surprise performance by Guns N’ Roses.
Backed by a retooled band, Axl Rose, 40, returned to MTV to rip through such classics as “Welcome to the Jungle” and “Paradise City.” The appearance topped off a wild night that featured ‘N Sync star Justin Timberlake’s solo debut, a stirring performance by Bruce Springsteen outside the Museum of Natural History and a tearful tribute to late singer Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes from the surviving members of TLC.
As usual, there was the bad behavior: Pink was hardly “Missundaztood” when she admitted that “I’m too drunk” to accept for Best Female Video. Eminem, 29, meanwhile, was loudly jeered for using his Best Male Video acceptance speech to take jabs at Moby, warning the techno star from the stage that “I will hit a man with glasses.” Slim Shady later apologetically told the crowd, “I’m going through some anger-management classes.”
Godfather of Soul James Brown, 74, was on hand to help Michael Jackson celebrate his 44th birthday, as Britney Spears, 20, delivered Jackson’s birthday cake. The pop diva referred to Jackson as “the artist of the millennium.” Jackson, hearing the accolade, mistakenly thought he was receiving an award.
Host Jimmy Fallon, 29, could only stand by and watch. “Don’t tell anyone,” he later said of Jackson, “but I think he’s had some work done.”
And the night’s major winners were:
Video of the Year: Eminem, “Without Me”
Male Video: Eminem, “Without Me”
Female Video: Pink, “Get the Party Started”
Group Video: No Doubt, “Hey Baby”
Rap Video: Eminem, “Without Me”
R&B Video: Mary J. Blige, “No More Drama”
Hip-Hop Video: Jennifer Lopez w/Ja Rule, “I’m Real (Remix)”
Dance Video: Pink, “Get the Party Started”
Rock Video: Linkin Park, “In the End”
Pop Video: No Doubt, “Hey Baby”
New Artist: Avril Lavigne, “Complicated”
Viewer’s Choice: Michelle Branch, “Everywhere”
Breakthrough Video: The White Stripes, “Fell in Love with a Girl”
Video from a Film: Chad Kroeger w/Josey Scott, “Hero,” (“Spider-Man”)
MTV2 Award: Dashboard Confessional, “Screaming Infidelities”
PEOPLE.com Photo Gallery: 2002 MTV Video Music Award Fashion Hits and Misses