May 30 – The Turntable Talk, Round 3 – The Book On MTV

Today we have our second guest writer in our third instalment of Turntable Talk. That’s where we’re happy to have some fellow music fans and writers weigh in on music subjects. Hopefully you were able to take a look at our first couple of topics, Why we’re still talking about the Beatles, and then the Pros and Cons of Live Albums. Today, we’re askingDid Video Kill the Radio Star?” The Beatles began making music videos as early as about 1966, and Britain had a few TV shows featuring videos weekly in the ’70s but in the ’80s, the form took flight with the appearance of MTV and all-day videos in the U.S. Love ’em or hate ’em, they undeniably altered the music world as we knew it. So what are the thoughts on the music video? Today we turn the floor over to Deke from Thunder Bay Rocks, who grew up in Canada where there was no MTV…but music videos still were king. Deke writes:

Growing up in Canada we didn’t get MTV in the ’80s. (What we got was our own video station called MuchMusic). MTV was a big business when I was in high school as they played way more hard rock videos than what MM offered here in Canada.

A guy in high school had a huge satellite dish in the mid-’80s and various times during the year we would go over to his place to watch the debut showing of the latest Van Halen or Def Leppard videos. I still recall watching “KISS- Animalize Live and Uncensored” at his place the very first time MTV showed it. (early 1985) We were blown away by Canada’s MuchMusic even though it was good it would not show that kind of stuff. 

“Now look at them yo-yo’s, that’s the way you do it
You play the guitar on the MTV
That ain’t workin’ that’s the way you do it
Money for nothin’ and chicks for free”

I Want My MTV is the book put brilliantly together by Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum who did over 400 interviews with directors, executives, producers, artists, VJs, and anyone else associated with the industry of MTV from its beginnings in ‘81 to the end of the music video era in ’92. 

The pic below sums it up perfectly…mtvbookpic1deke_InPixio

It’s crazy to think that MTV when it began its run on Cable TV( and even though it was based in New York) none of the NY cable companies would touch it. 

It was places like Tulsa Oklahoma and secondary markets that broke MTV, not the big U.S cities where all the main cable providers said that MTV would be done in a year.

It’s full of tons of great chapters as one chapter focuses on David Bowie calling out VJ Mark Goodman out on why MTV for not playing Black artists in 1983. Check it out  – Bowie tunes Goodman up. 

Michael Jackson basically changed that with the release of Thriller and “Beat It”..  MTV took the stance of playing only ‘Rock’ videos so they had said Jackson wasn’t rock… until all of sudden Eddie Van Halen was playing the solo on “Beat It.” Then MTV  basically said, ‘Yep that’s Rock, so add it to the rotation” Plus the time when umm, well read the excerpt below!mtvbookpic2dk_InPixio

Rap had the same problem as well getting onto MTV until the Run-DMC and “Walk This Way” by Aerosmith mashup broke down those barriers.

DMC tells the cool story of how they had Aerosmith’s Toys in The Attic in a crate with other records as they dug that drum intro which goes into the guitar riff. He says that when they would talk about the song they would only know it by Toys In The Attic Track 4 which was “Walk This  Way”. They had no idea that the band was called Aerosmith or for that matter, they had no idea who Steven Tyler and Joe Perry were.  They had no idea the title of the song. Run-DMC only knew the song as track 4!

The book tells how a contestant who won a Lost Weekend in Detroit with Van Halen was just that! Or, any guesses on what video Chapter 21 – “Whopping, Steaming Turd – the worst video ever made” – is about?

This is such a great read as it goes year by year. The MTV Awards became a yearly staple at MTV.  Funny how to read stories about how Madonna basically stole the performance that year (1984) and made her a household name. You can read about how MTV execs convinced Mick Jagger to say “I want my MTV” for $1. Or that the car on the cover of a ZZ Top album cost $250,000, so they put it in their videos to get the tax deduction! How video directors would all bid for the same jobs and at times it would get ugly between them. Better yet how about when Guns N Roses were the biggest band in the late ’80s to early ’90s. Axl had one of his friends hired at MTV to host Headbangers Ball. As Axl told his pal (Riki Rachtman) “You want the job at MTV? I’ll make the call!”


 Just read below as it pretty much sums up an 80s boardroom meeting at MTV:mtvboopic3dk_InPixio

Gene Simmons! LOL

This book is full of stories about rock stars, dwarves, models, and drugs. How MTV almost did not make it into a second season or for that matter the second-ever video as after The Buggles ” Video Killed The Radio Star” Was Played the screen went black.(in case you’re wondering Pat Benatar’s “You Better Run” was the second video played) The perseverance of the original creators of MTV (Bob Pittman, John Sykes-not the Whitesnake fella, and John Lack) was very instrumental in getting MTV into all the homes in the U.S.A.

I Want My MTV – amazing Read!


25 thoughts on “May 30 – The Turntable Talk, Round 3 – The Book On MTV

  1. Badfinger (Max)

    Great post Deke… I got this book in E-Book form after I read your review on your blog. Now I need to read it lol. I read Walter Yetnikoff’s book “Howling At The Moon”….that man controled A LOT of what went on in music in that time…and as your quote said…he probably didn’t remember a lot lol.

    Deke I’ve watched some Much Music clips on youtube and you sent me an interview of George Harrsion on Much Music that was one of the best he EVER did. The interview was much more in-depth than MTV EVER got. Was this normal? The VJ wasn’t as “showy” as MTV.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes it was always chill like vibe environment at MM. Harrison was one of the better interviews for sure as it was cool that George showed up right at the studio and not some hotel.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Badfinger (Max)

        The interviewer was good…not like some of the flashy interviews by MTV…that is why I didn’t have much hope for the interview until I found out the guy knew his stuff…I was expecting a quick…lets sell something interview….but it was great because George was not known for giving much info. Thanks Deke

        For anyone wanting to see it.

        Liked by 4 people

      2. Chris Ward was a minor Canadian music sensation – popular DJ, somewhat successful solo soft rock artist in 70s, music VJ and, as you said , wrote ‘Black Velvet’ for Allanah Myles who was his girlfriend at the time. He got the idea for that song while on assignment for Much Music at Graceland.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I was nice to see George in good spirits. As he noted himself during the interview, after “Gone Troppo,” he had grown really tired of the music business and essentially went on hiatus.

        “Cloud Nine” really was a triumphant return. I still like that album, even htough it can’t deny its ’80s production.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Badfinger (Max)

        Yea Gone Troppo sounding like he just wanted to get it done because of a contract….Cloud 9 was because he wanted to.
        Yea Cloud nine though didn’t have those fake sounding drums or sythns…that was the good thing

        Liked by 1 person

      5. ‘Cloud Nine’ did have some really fine tunes. They might not have ranked up with his very best with the Beatles or his early-70s ones, but played well in 1988 or 89. It was a welcome comeback.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. thanks for posting that. Now that I think of it, I do remember some good, and for TV, lengthy interviews they’d conduct…much more content than say an ‘Entertainment Tonight’ kind of interview clip. I gather MTV wasn’t known for that?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for taking part Deke! That book is going on my Amazon list to buy soon, sounds quite interesting! What were your thoughts on Much Music back then? I know I felt a bit ripped off by not having MTV but , in retrospect, MM was quite good and I think I grudgingly might admit to liking having seen it because you wouldn’t have seen Blue Rodeo, or the Northern Pikes or Chalk Circle on MTV

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Deke’s mention of the ‘Beat It’ video makes sense – I guess Black artists of several genres in the 80s and 90s owe a big debt to both Michael and Eddie VH for making MTV accessible to them. I wonder if that was Jackson’s (or Quincy Jones) thinking when calling in Eddie?

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I have to confess to not being a fan of MTV! (Other music channels, perhaps, like Kerrang or the Now That’s What I Call The ’70s’ here in UK.
    But that book certainly sounds interesting and worth checking out.

    (I hope you’re on sales commission! ) 😉 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL, no I’m not…have considered looking into that but never really seemed worth the effort to try to set up an Amazon reseller account or whatever the business end is just to make a few bucks once or twice a month on “clicks”, plus I don’t want to be assumed to be motivated by cash benefits with what I am writing in terms of praising an album, or book.


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