2021 VMAs: Foo Fighters’ First MTV VMA Performance in 15 Years, Receive Global Icon Award

Foo Fighters accepted the first-ever Global Icon Award at the MTV Video Music Awards on Sept. 12 but not before offering the packed audience at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, and viewers a medley of their hits, marking the band’s first performance on the awards show in 15 years.

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The band performed three songs, including “Learn to Fly” (1999), “Shame Shame” from 2021, and the 1997 hit “Everlong,” which had an accompanying montage of photos, videos, and art spotlighting the band’s 26-year career on screens around the stage. Drummer Taylor Hawkins also paid tribute to Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts, who passed away on Aug. 24, with the words “Charlie R.I.P.” etched on his bass drum.

Nominated for three categories at this year’s awards show, this was the first time the band performed on the VMAs since 2006, when they picked up a “moon man” award for Best Group Video for “Big Me,” off their 1995 self-titled debut.

Most recently, “Everlong,” and one of the first songs the band ever performed on the VMAs in 1997, saw an uptick on various Billboard charts, following the performance of drummer prodigy Nandi Bushell, who joined the band on stage for the songs at a Los Angeles show after a viral drumming challenge with frontman Dave Grohl during the pandemic.

Foo Fighters (Photo: Theo Wargo/MTV/ViacomCBS)

Throughout the summer, Foo Fighters have reemerged on stage since releasing their 10th album Medicine at Midnight in early 2021, “reopening” Madison Square Garden as the first concert since the pandemic shutdown and recently to reopen the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C.

This was the first time an American artist received the Global Icon Award, which has typically been given to artists at the MTV European Music Awards since 2010. 

“It’s quite an award to receive,” said Grohl, upon accepting the award. “We’ve been a band for 26 years, so it feels pretty good.”

The band also thanked various MTV VJs and other executives who were a part of their history. Foo Fighters first performed on the VMAs in 1997, following the release of their second album The Color and the Shape.

Grohl added, “Thank you so much for this award. We’ll see you in 26 years.”

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