Milestones, TV, Video — August 1, 2011 at 7:05 am

Milestones: MTV debuts 30 years ago today; watch first full hour of music videos

This is a little more mainstream than what we usually cover, but it’s hard to deny the significance: Thirty years ago today, on Aug. 1, 1981, MTV went on the air (“Ladies and gentlemen, rock ‘n’ roll…”), changing the course of music in the ’80s and beyond.

In the playlist above, courtesy of YouTube user dalekenbuck, you can watch the full first hour of MTV’s broadcast, complete with original VJs and cheesy dawn-of-an-era videos by the likes of REO Speedwagon and Rod Stewart. Things would get better in the ensuing years, with shows like “I.R.S. Records Presents The Cutting Edge,” “PostModern MTV” and, of course, “120 Minutes.”

But for now, enjoy the birth of MTV.





  1. AnnaChronica

    Hey, let’s not be too quick to diss early MTV as being too mainstream. I remember seeing the Blue Man Group “burning the 80s” on MTV when they were still just NYC street performers, seeing one of the Residents hanging out on MTV’s boat when they were doing a summer MTV cruise in the Hudson, seeing Bauhaus videos, etc. Early MTV showed quite the variety of things, before all of the alternative rock started getting ghetto-ized into focused shows.

  2. Exactly. Early MTV was instrumental in introducing those of us who lived out in midwestern exurbia to bands like Talking Heads, Split Enz, Devo, etc. bands who made videos because they couldn’t get any mainstream radio airplay. There was a lot of good stuff mixed in with the in-concert videos of 70’s classic rock dinosaurs (Styx, REO, Cheap Trick).

  3. I can’t underestimate how much of an impact MTV had on my adolescence….

  4. Wow was it really 30 years ago that MTV put those guys on the moon?

  5. Watched that at home 2 nights ago. I felt like a kid again. I think they should air re-runs of PostModern and 120 Minutes.

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