John Walsh: And the prize for bad behaviour is awarded to ...

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The Independent Culture

Ali G'S naughty-boy performance at the MTV awards only shows what a sweet, old-fashioned traditionalist he's become. For no music awards ceremony today is complete without a display of rude, boorish or subversively cray-zee antics from one of the aspirant prize-winners at the round tables.

This time last year, the Q Awards at the Park Lane Hotel in London descended into chaos as Liam Gallagher of Oasis laid verbally into his hated rival Robbie Williams, and accused him of being "queer", possibly the most bizarrely off-the-mark assessment of Mr Williams' likely sexual orientation since records began.

Twelve months later, the 2001 Q awards were disrupted by the seated verbal interventions of John Lydon, the California-dwelling television pundit who used to be Johnny Rotten back in 1976. He made disparaging remarks about the girth, the talent and the dress sense of many of the contenders, though Kate Bush escaped the lash of his tongue.

The Britannia Music Awards, or "Brits" as they're invariably known, have a reputation for trouble. It started in 1988, when Kenneth Baker, the Education Secretary at the time, was booed by the Thatcher-hating crowds until a youthful Cliff Richard leapt to Baker's defence and told the jeering audience to "grow up".

Until Ali G's excesses of last night, award-show presenters have tended to be bland, uncontroversial figures. But they stole the show in 1989 when Fleetwood Mac's unfeasibly tall front-man, Mick Fleetwood, linked up with the former page 3 midget Samantha Fox in front of a failed autocue, tried some lively extemporised banter and died on their hindquarters.

In 1992, at another Brits ceremony, the pop terrorists KLF made a peculiar exit from the music business. They performed the dance hit "3am Eternal" with a gang of "thrash punks" called Extreme Noise Terror, flourished a sub-machine- gun and sprayed the audience with blanks. Later, they left a dead sheep outside the door of the after-show party. They weren't invited back.

The nation's favourite bit of bad-boy behaviour was in 1996 when Michael Jackson's "Suffer little children to come unto me" performance as a white-clad Messiah rescuing raggedy urchin kids in a streaming wind was interrupted by Jarvis Cocker, of Pulp, leaping on to the stage in exasperation and wiggling his bottom at the cameras. The tabloid papers initially criticised Cocker, then did a swift volte-face when they realised the whole country supported him.

More recent shocking behaviour has included the drenching of John Prescott by Danbert Nobacon, the bald chief of the anarcho-syndicalist band Chumbawumba; and the episode when an unknown DJ called Brandon Block, sitting in the audience, thought he heard his name being called, climbed on stage to receive a "Best Newcomer" award and found himself being thumped by Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones. "He came at me with a pair of chopsticks, but he could easily have had a knife," said Wood, unarguably.