In Memory of the MTV 1980s
Back in the 1980s, before they discovered the joys of young people living together in various cities, in Winnebagos and on the Jersey Shore, MTV played music videos -- all the time. They even advertised it as 24 hours around the clock.
Reading through I Want My MTV, a recent book by Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum, I learned that being an MTV Executive was nearly as much fun as being an actual rock star. While MTV turned an audio medium into a visual one, they managed to alert young people to the fact that there were new bands out there, something the kids wouldn't learn from commercial radio where it wasn't unusual to feel like you'd stumbled into a world where stations were apparently designed to make you hate music.
Anyhow, why not list some of the fine, fine groups -- and some not so fine -- that appeared regularly on the channel in its early years? Surely, this list will make you want to watch some music!
25) The Buggles: It's like they knew. Before there was an MTV, the Buggles had written, recorded and released "Video Killed The Radio Star," a song released as a single in September, 1979 that appeared on their 1980 album, The Age of Plastic. MTV debuted on August 1, 1981. Did anyone record "The Real World Killed The Careers of Music Video Stars" back in 1986?
24) Blotto: Lucky for this Albany, NY band, they had a video for their song "I Wanna Be A Lifeguard," because MTV needed videos to play and they didn't care a whit who it was, as long as they could get ahold of it. The world needs more Blotto.
23) Lee Ritenour: MTV were so desperate for content on opening day that they played two songs, "Mr. Briefcase" and "Is It You?" by smooth-contemporary-jazz guitarist Lee Ritenour within the first 24 hours. While the kids clearly clamored for More Ritenour! the suits at MTV decided to move in a different direction. Somewhere Dave Grusin sobbed.
22) Run-DMC: It's no secret that MTV didn't really know what to do with rappers. Surely, the kids didn't want to see or hear this stuff. No commercial potential. But if Run-DMC were paired up with Aerosmith, a hard rock band from the 1970s who were down on their luck, to perform the 1975 'Smith track "Walk This Way," well, who wouldn't want to hear that? Besides, hip-hop and old Aerosmith fans? At that point, there were more kids who weren't fans of hip-hop and/or Aerosmith to make this a surefire hit!