Alicia Keys and Jay-Z duet on his chart-topper "Empire State of Mind" during the 2009 show. He won favorite male artist and favorite rap/hip-hop album for The Blueprint 3 that year.
Stevie Wonder, Neil Diamond
Stevie Wonder and Neil Diamond with his Award of Merit trophy backstage at the 1990 AMAs. Wonder received the same honor in 1982.
Justin Bieber can barely get his arms around his four-trophy haul at the 2010 American Music Awards, which included artist and breakthrough artist of the year.
Christina Aguilera performs during the 2008 show. The singer had a 10-month-old baby at home and a lucrative new gig judging singers ahead.
Backed by Miami Sound Machine, Gloria Estefan shakes her body to the conga beat during the 1988 AMAs. She and the group were riding the heat from "Anything for You," the first of their three No. 1 singles.
Kanye West -- probably with only a modicum of humility -- accepts the best rap/hip-hop album award for Graduation, one of two trophies he received at the 2008 AMAs.
Lady Gaga delievers a fiery performance during the 2009 show. But she went home empty-handed that night despite four nominations.
Lionel Richie celebrated all night long during the 1985 AMAs. The smooth-voiced former Commodores frontman hopscotched across genres that year; two of his four wins were for favorite pop/rock male artist and favorite soul/R&B male artist.
Pop quiz, Madonna fans: What year was this? Think: "Who's That Girl" video. Right, it's 1987 -- and yes, she was causing a commotion.
Mariah Carey was three multiplatinum albums into her remarkable career when the 20th annual AMAs were held in January 1993. After walking away with wins for favorite pop/rock female artist and adult contemporary album (MTV Unplugged -- actually a seven-song EP), she went on to have one of her biggest years.
Michael Jackson and Eddie Murphy
Eddie Murphy presented the career-spanning Award of Achievement to Michael Jackson at the 1989 AMAs. Neither was able to adjust the microphone stand, so the whisper-voiced King of Pop had to lean down while delivering his acceptance speech. Of course, the big question is, was either thinking about Murphy's riotous Jacko impression from his stand-up days? "Tito, get me some tissues. Jermaine, stop teasing."
'N Sync sent hearts a-flutter with its performance of "Bye Bye Bye" at the 2000 American Music Awards. They lost the favorite pop/rock band, duo or group award to Backstreet Boys that night, but Justin Timberlake and company got their revenge a few months later when No Strings Attached moved 2.4 million copies in its first week -- a SoundScan record that still stands. It became the best-selling album of the decade.
Coming off the biggest year of his career, the Artist Then Still Known as Prince was nominated for 10 AMAs in 1985. He only won two, but he and the Revolution wiped out the room with a ferocious version of "Purple Rain."
Selena Gomez, Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift
There certainly was no shortage of girl power at the 2011 AMAs. To wit (from left): Selena Gomez, Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry and Taylor Swift. Swift won three awards that night, and Minaj bagged two.
A remarkably clear-eyed Snoop Dogg pauses for photographers at the 1999 show. He wasn't nominated for anything that night, but when did he ever need an excuse to party?
Stevie Wonder, pictured backstage at the AMAs in an undated photo, will lead a tribute to Dick Clark during Sunday's 40th anniversary American Music Awards. Clark died in April at 82.
Stevie Wonder performs at the AMAs circa 1979. In a special American Music Awards poll taken in 2000, he was voted Artist of the Decade for the 1970s, beating such tough competition as Elton John, Paul McCartney, The Bee Gees, The Jackson 5 and Donna Summer.
Taylor Swift won her first American Music Award, for favorite female country artist, in 2008. She had lost to Carrie Underwood in the category the previous year. (Note: Nobody commandeered the microphone during the then-18-year-old's acceptance speech.)
Tina Turner was fresh off her amazing comeback year when she won a pair of AMAs in 1985. She had roared back into the spotlight the previous summer with her chart-topping hit, "What's Love Got to Do With It." Her album Private Dancer peaked at No. 3, spending a remarkable 11 weeks there.
Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor and Lionel Richie
In 1986, Diana Ross asked Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie to join her and Harry Belafonte onstage while accepting song of the year honors for "We Are the World" -- the all-star hit for African famine relief recorded after the AMAs one year prior. Soon Elizabeth Taylor, Sheila E, Dionne Warwick, Smokey Robinson, Huey Lewis, Jon Bon Jovi and more joined them for a "We Are the World" sing-along. (Pictured are, from left: Richie, Sheila E, Taylor, Jackson, Ross, Belafonte and Robinson.)
Whitney Houston was at the peak of her career at the 1994 AMAs. She took home seven awards that night, including favorite pop/rock female artist, favorite pop/rock album for The Bodyguard soundtrack and favorite pop/rock single for "I Will Always Love You."
Fifteen years later, in 2007, after years of hard drug abuse and personal tumult, Houston returned to the AMAs stage for a comeback performance of her new Diane Warren-penned single, "I Didn't Know My Own Strength." Houston died in 2012, one night before the Grammys.
Zoe Saldana transforms into Ellen Ripley from "Aliens" while Nathan Fillion taps into his inner Captain Kirk and Chris Hardwick goes "Back to the Future" as Marty McFly in THR's tribute to graphic novels, with the help of illustrator and artist Reid Kikuo Johnson. View gallery