August 1, 1981
What an exciting time! Cable television was brand new to most of us. Not only could you watch movies without using a VCR, or get sports news from somewhere other then the last 3 minutes of the local news, but now we could watch music videos 24/7!
30 Years ago today, on August 1, 1981, at 12:01 a.m., MTV launched with the words “Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll,” spoken by John Lack.
Yeah, yeah, everybody knows The Buggles had the first video ever shown on MTV. But do you know who had the second? Here is a video of the first 10 minutes of MTV:
“I Want My MTV!!!”
We didn’t get cable in our area until a year or 2 after the launch. So, by the time we got cable, we had already heard all about MTV, and were foaming at the mouth waiting to get it. And it did not disappoint. There were all kinds of fun videos, and we were introduced to new music that we may not have listened to if we only heard it on the radio.
And the VJ’s were also really cool. The original 5 were Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter, J.J. Jackson and the iconic Martha Quinn. Unfortunately, J.J. Jackson died on March 17, 2004 at the age of 62 from a heart attack. However, if you have XM or Sirius Radio, you can listen to the rest of the VJ’s on the channel 80’s on 8. They each DJ in about 4 or 5 hour blocks, and they all host the weekly show Big 40 Countdown where they count down the 40 biggest hits of this week during a certain year in the ’80s. Last week’s episode was the biggest hits of the week in 1988.
The Beginning of the End
By the late ’80s, the format started to slowly change. First there was the news show, The Week in Rock. And then there was the cool game show Remote Control. Then in the ’90s, the cartoon show Liquid Television premiered on MTV, which featured the cultural phenomenon, Beavis and Butthead:
Old: MTV = Music Television; New: MTV = Moron Television
And then The Real World premiered. With all of these various types of shows being added to MTV, music was slowly being phased out. Now, it is kind of a sad joke about how MTV doesn’t show videos anymore. Now it is known more for The Hills, Jersey Shore and Teen Mom than it is for being a music pioneer. There used to be Michael Jackson, Madonna, ZZ Top, and Def Leppard on MTV. More recently it has been “Speidi”, “Snooki”, and “The Situation”.
Time has moved on. But at least we had our MTV for a little while.