September 1987: Peter Gabriel Smashes the MTV VMAs with "Sledgehammer"

SLEDGEHAMMER
Photo Credit
(Geffen)

No music video would have nearly the impact on MTV and the medium as a whole in the year 1987 than Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer." Released as the lead single from his blockbuster 1986 album, So, the song's video was a visual riot featuring claymation, pixilation, and stop motion animation by Aardman Animations and the famous Brothers Quay.

RELATED: May 1986: Peter Gabriel Releases "So"

"It took a lot of hard work," Gabriel recalled to Philadelphia radio station WMMR in 1986 about making the clip, which required the singer to lay under a sheet of glass for 16 hours while filming the video one frame at a time . "I was thinking at the time, 'If anyone wants to try and copy this video, good luck to them.'"

"Sledgehammer" earned a whopping 10 nominations at the 1987 MTV Video Music Awards, including Video of the Year and Best Overall Performance in a Video. Gabriel won nine of the ten nominations. The only category that "Sledgehammer" missed out on was Viewer's Choice, which went to U2's "With or Without You." Including a pair of nominations for the "Big Time" video, Gabriel's 12 nominations in a single year was an MTV VMAs record until Lady Gaga scored 13 nods in 2010.

FUN FACT: The big dance party scene towards the end of the clip features Peter Gabriel's daughters Anna-Marie and Melanie, the animators themselves and director Stephen Johnson's girlfriend.

 

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