Some old dogs learned new tricks when MTV appeared 40 years ago. And some already had the stuff in their repertoire.
They say the video killed the radio star, but some of those rock artists who did really well on radio, thank you, were ready for their cameo – and then some. Many of these artists came from the UK and Europe, where video was a form of promotion established for at least a decade and a half thanks to outlets available to stream them. But there were also artists on this side of the pond who were ready to meet the new boss.
Eventually, most serious people got on board as MTV’s impact spread and more video releases appeared on the American landscape. But during MTV’s early days, it was the 10 classic rock groups that benefited the most from the new channel’s inaugural explosion.
The “Heartbreaker” was already a hitmaker, but his UK label, Chrysalis Records, knew about the video and was ready to make Pat Benatar a first adapter. The company chose their cover of Young Rascals’ “You Better Run” from Benatar’s second album, Passion crimes, preparing the singer and her band for a shoot on Manhattan’s West Docks. Guitarist (and future husband) Neil Giraldo was against it, but Benatar wrote in his memoirs Between the devil and the deep sea that everyone “was incredibly excited to be a part of this new way of bringing music into the future.” She was pissed off by the director’s suggestion to use fans (for maximum blowing) and poses, but her attitude ended up working in favor of the clip. “You Better Run” was the second video released by MTV, following “Video Killed the Radio Star”, making Giraldo the first guitarist to appear on the channel.
Midwestern rock troupe and crew had the temerity to make 1980s chart-topping videos Hi infidelity for the overseas market, including “Keep on Loving You” and “Take It on the Run”, so it was locked and loaded for the launch of MTV. REO Speedwagon also has the distinction of having the first full concert to air on MTV, although the August 8 show from Denver had to overcome some technical difficulties when it first aired.
Yes, he was already a superstar who filled the arena, but MTV was good for Sir Rod and propelled him to even greater stature. Her music video for “She Won’t Dance With Me” from the 1980s Stupid behavior was the network’s third video, and it had more (“Sailing”, “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy”, “Passion”, “Tonight’s the Night (Gonna Be Alright)” and more) ready to go. It was the start of a long and beneficial relationship on both sides.
Going solo from Led Zeppelin was certainly an intimidating proposition, but the band’s frontman found a friend in America’s New Music Channel. MTV aired Robert Plant’s rendition of Elvis Presley’s “Little Sister,” with Rockpile from the 1979 Concerts for the People of Kampuchea on its first day. And when he started coming up with his own nifty music videos – “Burning Down One Side”, “Big Log”, “In the Mood”, “Little By Little” – the staircase to video heaven was wide open and welcoming.
The British trio already had videos from three albums when MTV signed, with a fourth (Ghost in the machine) on the way in two months. The beauty, good humor, and charisma made the Font a perfect fit, and it’s fair to say that MTV’s embrace helped set the stage for the massive success of Synchronicity in 1983. And MTV was a huge help to Sting when he launched his solo career in 1985.
Like the police, expat Chrissie Hynde and her UK team were brainwashed into the video world and had the merchandise for MTV. “Brass in Pocket,” “Message of Love,” “Kid,” and “Talk of the Town” all aired in Day One, and MTV stuck with the 1984’s launch. Learn to crawl and well in the 80s.
Timing is everything, they say. Of course, the Who were well stocked with videos dating back to his early singles. But he also released a new album, Face dances, just four and a half months before MTV started, that is to say clips for “You Better You Bet” and “Don’t Let Go the Coat”, as well as for “Rough Boys” of the recent film by Pete Towshend Empty glass solo album, were available at the “current” price. The Who performances of Concerts for the People of Kampuchea were also broadcast, making the established troupe one of MTV’s premier dates and the channel a supporting partner for the It’s hard album in 1982 and the Who’s first farewell tour that year.
That timing thing? Also ask these guys. The launch of MTV came right in front of Queen’s the biggest flix, a companion of Queen’s 1981 The biggest hits album that has compiled the band’s 18 videos to this point – including a music video for “Killer Queen” shot especially for the collection. The quartet’s advanced creativity allowed for many moments of entertainment, and as radio support dwindled for Queen’s releases in the ’80s and’ 90s, MTV remained a valuable support system.
Phil Collins / Genesis
It helped that Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” was already a pretty topical hit and had a really cool, low-key video to go with it. Genesis also had a small arsenal of music videos, and as budgets increased the two made conceptually ambitious and often humorous videos the channel couldn’t deny, leading to favored nation status for at least another decade. .
The video was part of the A wizard, a real starthe artistic arsenal of long before MTV was released. That didn’t really make Todd Rundgren a star of the video, it was a domestic hotbed for his surreal “Time Heals,” which was the eighth clip to air on the channel’s first day. Without a true love for radio, MTV was somewhat of a port in the storm for Rundgren (and Utopia) as he brought in music videos for “Bang on the Drum All Day”, “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” and other singles.