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CREED TAKES VH1 AWARDS 'HIGHER'.

Byline: Fred Shuster Music Writer

No recounts needed, demanded or required by law.

At the first My VH1 Music Awards, fans voting on the Internet handed spiritually inclined Florida rockers Creed the most honors with four awards, including Group Of The Year during a 2 1/2-hour telecast Thursday from the Shrine Auditorium downtown.

``This is for the fans,'' said Scott Stapp, singer for Creed, who also won Song Of The Year (for ``Higher''), 2 For 2 (second album as good as the first) and Welcome To The Big Time honors. ``Without them, none of this would be possible. The fans vote for these awards, with no politics involved. We couldn't ask for anything more.''

Country diva Faith Hill got three honors for Woman Of The Year, Sexxxiest Video (``Breathe'') and ``You Want Fries With That Album?'' (for her Pepsi commercial).

The Red Hot Chili Peppers took two trophies for Pushing The Envelope Video (for ``Californication'') and Must-Have Album (for the disc of the same title). Metallica also won two awards, for Best Stage Spectacle (for shows with the San Francisco Symphony) and Gods Of Thunder.

TV and rock music have long enjoyed a warm embrace. The VH1 event adds a new element to the love affair: the Internet.

Billed as the first fully interactive music awards show, the VH1 event's 23 sometimes wacky categories themselves were suggested by fans.

Winners in such off-the-wall categories as Most Entertaining Public Feud and Booty Shake were decided by more than 2 million fans worldwide voting on the cable channel's Web site, VH1.com.

The fact that fans chose the winners makes the VH1 shindig radically different from the chorus line of competing music awards telecasts, including sister station MTV's annual event, the American Music Awards and, of course, the daddy of them all, the Grammys, which are decided by an anonymous and somewhat mysterious group of music-biz insiders.

There was no talk of faulty ballots backstage, but Bon Jovi frontman Jon Bon Jovi joked that ``all the chads have been counted . . . if you thought Bubba was fun, wait till you see me as president.''

No such luck. Bon Jovi won just once Thursday, for Video Of The Year (``It's My Life'').

Creed, which garnered nine nominations, was still a surprise as VH1's big winner in light of competition from such long-standing veterans as the Chili Peppers and 'N Sync.

The Peppers, for their part, were just glad to be at the event.

``Beating Creed once or twice was good enough for us,'' said mohawked singer Anthony Kiedis.

Teen-pop sensations 'N Sync couldn't even say that. Despite record-breaking album sales recently, the boy band went home empty-handed.

Gazing at the dressed-down rock crowd, the show's host, actor John Leguizamo, drew laughs in the program's first 15 minutes by quipping that the audience contained ``more fake chests than a Pier 1 warehouse.''

The show was kicked off by Irish superstars U2, whose singer Bono roamed through the audience performing the group's current single, ``Beautiful Day.''

Before voting closed, Creed led the finalists with nine nominations, the Red Hot Chili Peppers were nominated seven times, and Hill and 'N Sync picked up five nods each.

The inaugural My VH1 Music Awards also featured colorful live performances by such hit-makers as No Doubt, Bon Jovi, Metallica and Christina Aguilera. Presenters included Jennifer Lopez, Sylvester Stallone and Salma Hayek.

Guitarist and band leader Carlos Santana, capping a year that saw him win top honors at all the other music awards shows, was named Man Of The Year. He said backstage that he planned to spend enough time with his family next year to win the Father of the Year award, adding that his goal is to ``create music that will dismantle the violence, the shootings in schools.''

But later the fans naturally gave Santana a backhanded compliment when his smash single, ``Smooth,'' got the nod for Your Song Kicked A-- But Was Played Too Damn Much.

THE WINNERS

Winners of the My VH1 Music Awards, selected by online music fans and presented Thursday at the Shrine Auditorium:

Must-Have Album: Red Hot Chili Peppers, ``Californication''

Your Song Kicked A-- But Was Played Too Damn Much: Santana, ``Smooth''

Song Of The Year: Creed, ``Higher''

Man Of The Year: Carlos Santana

Woman Of The Year: Faith Hill

Group Of The Year: Creed

Most Entertaining Public Feud: Rapper Eminem and everybody

Best Live Act: Dave Matthews Band

Best Stage Spectacle: Metallica with the S.F. Symphony

Welcome To The Big Time!: Creed

Best-Kept Secret: The Corrs

Sexxxiest Video: Faith Hill, ``Breathe''

Video Of The Year: Bon Jovi, ``It's My Life''

Pushing The Envelope Video: Red Hot Chili Peppers, ``Californication''

Coolest Fan Web site: Dave Matthews Band

Booty Shake: Ricky Martin

Gods Of Thunder: Metallica

Legend In Action: Sting

Givin' It Back: Limp Bizkit

2 For 2: Creed

``You Want Fries With That Album?'': Faith Hill's television Pepsi advertisement

Double Threat (Musicians-Actors): Will Smith, ``Legend of Bagger Vance''

Best UK Act: Robbie Williams

- Associated Press

CAPTION(S):

3 photos, box

Photo:

(1) Creed frontman Scott Stapp acknowledges the crowd Thursday after online music fans awarded the band with four VH1 awards, including Group Of The Year.

(2 -- 3) Featuring performances by Christina Aguilera, at top, and No Doubt, the My VH1 Music Awards were determined by an estimated 2 million fans.

Charlotte Schmid-Maybach/Staff Photographer

Box: THE WINNERS (See text)
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 1, 2000
Words:898
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