MTV Debuted 35 Years ago today – August 1st, 1981

It is hard to believe, but it was 35 years ago today that MTV debuted and changed music forever.  It also changed me forever.  When we got cable, MTV was the channel I had to watch.  It was the channel that shaped my music tastes and helped make me so obsessive about music.

It allowed us to not only listen to our favorite music, but actually get to see our favorite artists.  We no longer had to wait for American Bandstand to come on or get the latest music magazine to see the artists.  We could watch them every day, all day in their videos.

The first video played on MTV was The Buggles – “Video Killed the Radio Star”.  This was the most appropriate opening video they could have possibly chosen.  Although it didn’t really help their career as I couldn’t name another song they did.  It did make them famous forever for being known as the song that was the first video on MTV.  If you want to see a list of all the videos played on the 1st day, click on this link to wikipedia.

The VeeJays were the best.  Who doesn’t remember Alan Hunter, Nina Blackwood, Martha Quinn, Mark Goodman and J.J. Jackson.  They helped make MTV what it was and are now a part of history. I watched them so much, I thought I actually knew them.  Mark & J.J. were the cool ones.  Alan was the geeky, nerdy one (I mean that in a good way), Martha was the cute one and Nina seemed like she was the stoned one (I also mean that in a good way).  I loved them all.

What was great about MTV is that it introduced us to so much music that we weren’t getting on the radio.  Mainly because there were so few bands with music videos at the time that MTV had no choice but to play them.  I remember bands like Haircut 100, A Flock of Seagulls, Kajagoogoo, Human League, Missing Persons and Split Enz.

The videos also took artists that were already established and made them even more famous.  It helped boost Robert Palmer’s career with his slick videos for “Addicted to Love” and “Simply Irresistible”.  However, the most notable of course was Michael Jackson. His video releases became major Television events – especially “Thriller”.

Videos also made careers for bands like Duran Duran and INXS.  These were bands with good looks that were perfect for MTV.  It made Madonna a star with all her controversial videos. And the rise of Hair Bands was also perfect for MTV as the image seem to be more important than the music (although the music was awesome).  Bon Jovi was made for this channel.

But MTV also ruined the career of one artists for making such a horrible video.  That was Billy Squier.  The video for “Rock Me Tonite” single-handedly killed his career.  You can read a great article about the video on

Now all these years later, MTV is changing VH1 Classic to MTV Classic and they are reshowing the 1st hour of the start of MTV when they transition to the new channel today, August 1st.  I am sure by the time this post hits, that will already have happened.

Thanks to MTV for giving us such great music.  I am not saying thank you for 35 years of great TV because you were only good in the 80’s IMO.  When you stopped showing videos, I stopped watching.  I hope everyone has some fond memories of MTV.  I know I sure do.

15 thoughts on “MTV Debuted 35 Years ago today – August 1st, 1981

  1. Being Canadian, MTV had zero impact on me. Our own station MuchMusic opened in ’84 and that’s where my story takes off! Much was always considered superior to MTV, until both channels stopped playing music in favor of other crap.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. MTV never played Hendrix in the beginning. They never played anything cool like that in the early years. Heck, I didn’t know 1/2 the bands they were playing. I just remember sitting at the dinner table and when Kiss’ “I Love It Loud” video came on, I would have to stop eating, turn around and watch it. I thought the Tank Stage was awesome.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I find it interesting that video didn’t kill the radio star. It seems radio and audio streaming are still going strong whereas MTV is no longer about music, it evolved into something not even resembling music.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I wanted my MTV! LOL!
    David Bowie chewed them out for excluding Black artists back in the day. It took a singer of that stature to call them on that. I am glad that he did!
    RIP David Bowie.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It still took them awhile to change their ways. All I remember early on was Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie. Outside of that is was really white. And when Aerosmith and Run D.M.C. joined up on “Walk This Way”, I then started noticing the change.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I remember when we first got MTV (via Sky TV) back in the early 90s. I was pretty excited about music television… I was gonna sit all day ‘watching radio’. It was pretty disappointing. The moment so mnah, that I can’t much remember it. All I remember is thinking “this ain’t even a patch on The Chart Show”.

    I seem to recall not so long ago, during one of these MTV Awards (quite ironic that they award best music video, huh?), Justin Timberlake called them out on not being about music? Telling them to play music videos…

    MTV is all about ‘Look At My Big House’, ‘I’m A Rich Kid’, and ‘You Can’t Relate To Any Of This’ type shows. I guess that’s where the viewers are …

    Liked by 1 person

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