Thirty years ago MTV aired its first video, the Buggles' "Video Killed The Radio Star." It was an apt choice, even though radio continued to cruise for another 20 years, until XM Radio and the Internet finally stamped it dead. MTV was the last great musical revolution. It kept this high school kid home on many afternoons when I should have been in class. It was the last time I cut school or work for anything.
What a difference 30 years makes.
This Monday, August 1, MTV celebrated its 30th birthday. It might as well have been the 30th birthday of KMET. Remember KMET? Of course you don't. It's an old Los Angeles classic-rock radio station. And it's dead. Dead just like radio. Dead just like MTV. The revolution is long over, and MTV is just another in a long line of corporate stooges trotting out corporate stooge bands trying to pass themselves off as something anti-establishment. It's filled with a bunch of reality nothingness celebrating a life of consumerism. The "M" used to stand for "music." Now it stands for "meaningless." EmpTV. Empty. It's all one self-conscious, soulless bore.
Ah, but on August 1, 1981, it was magic. Nothing but '80s video goodness and the whole world in front of us. Big hair, padded shoulders, and lots of guitar hooks. Here are the first 10 videos played that day in order. Let the good times roll.
1. THE BUGGLES "Video Killed The Radio Star"
Ground zero for MTV. Co-founder Trevor Horn would go onto future MTV successes with the bands Yes and Art Of Noise.
2. PAT BENATAR "You Better Run"
3. ROD STEWART "She Won't Dance"
4. THE WHO "You Better You Bet"
Another veteran act that had an early-'80s MTV makeover. Kenney Jones was on drums replacing the dearly departed Keith Moon. Coincidentally, Kenney was in Faces with Rod Stewart. Six degrees of Rod...
5. Ph.D "Little Suzi's On The Up"
Going for the cred factor, MTV aired a video from a one-hit wonder U.K. band consisting of two former members of the Jeff Beck Group. Tesla covered the tune in 1986.
6. CLIFF RICHARD "We Don't Talk Anymore"
This one rounded out the trio of videos from slowly aging rock dudes. Cliff Richard was the ripe age of 41 when he made his MTV debut. He was a major heartthrob in the U.K., but in the U.S.? Not so much.
7. THE PRETENDERS "Brass In Pocket"
8. TODD RUNDGREN "Time Heals"
The former Utopia frontman was pushing the limits of early music video production on Day One, with lots of pre-computer trickery that inspired a generation of Mac users.
9. REO SPEEDWAGON "Take It On The Run"
"Heard it from a friend who..." What can I even say about this? What would the '80s be without REO?
10. STYX "Rockin' The Paradise"
What's the only thing better than a slammin' REO riff? Some Styx concept-album rock. It's no Tommy, but it's got that classic rock bombast. Only two years later, Styx would up the ante with 1983's "Mr. Roboto." YES!!!