Hello, I Am Old

Just explained to the daughter that the “M” in MTV stood for music, and that when it started the station only played music videos. Her response: “Wow, that must have been cool.”

Yes. Yes it was.

Below, the first music video I ever saw on MTV.

If you can find a link to the first video you ever saw on MTV, put it in the comments. No Rick Rolls, please. Unless, you know, “Never Gonna Give You Up” was the first video you ever saw on MTV.

220 Comments on “Hello, I Am Old”

  1. I’m not sure that actually makes you old. When I started watching it, it only played music videos and features about the artists. I think the farthest they went from music was to show the ‘how we did it’ features about various music videos.

    It doesn’t make you old, it makes you _cool_. (Just go with it. )

  2. Ah, the good old days. The first video I saw on MTV was the first one they played and I watched nothing else the first few days it was on. But I can’t find it on Youtube anywhere. This’ll have to do, I guess.

  3. Talking Heads “Once In A Lifetime.” I’ll never forget it as long as I live. I think I saw this on HBO when they used to do the 30 minute video blocks back in the day.

  4. *tries to remember* – Nope, can’t. TOO OLD. (I take heart from the fact that the tab at the top of this page reads ‘Hello, I Am Old – Whatever’.)

    But! I do remember that MTV was the first place I ever saw what I thought of as ‘grown-up cartoons’. Oh, Aeon Flux, how I loved you.

  5. The first video I can remember seeing was “Beat It.” My brother and I were among the “we must protect our kids from MTV” kids, plus we didn’t really have cable until the early 90’s. By then they had started down the road to taking the music out of Music Television. They do still play videos, you just have to be up at 3 in the morning to catch them.

  6. I remember staying up late to watch “Friday Night Videos” (with the volume turned way down so as not to wake the parents) before I had MTV, but I have no idea what the first video I saw on either was.

  7. Guess I’m old too then! But hey, wow, I haven’t seen that video in forever. I spent hours watching music videos back when, and my sister adored JJ in high school. I’m now married to a guy who grew up a short drive from that train station, his grandma lived on a street like that, and the old lady sits down in front of a cabinet just like my mother-in-law has in her living room.

    So, thinking about it: I see so much more, watching this today. Which is true of so many things in life now I’m this far from Friday Night Videos (let alone MTV).

  8. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the first video I saw on MTV. My family didn’t have cable when I was growing up, and my parents first got cable when I was a senior in high school, in the fall of 1998. By then, MTV had long moved away from the music-only model.

    The funny thing is, today you can get some approximation of a music-video-only cable channel by queueing up a bunch of music videos on YouTube.

  9. Laura: My local pop-rock radio station played a simulcast of Friday Night Videos. Back in the day, my parents would leave me in charge of my brother while they went out with friends. After my brother was asleep, with his bedroom door shut, I’d turn on the TV, turn the volume all the way down, put on my headphones, turn on my Walkman, crank it up as loud as I liked, and watch FNV that way.


  10. “Oh. So like YouTube?” Yeah, right. JUST like YouTube, my offspring.

    Sadly, I can’t find a link to the actual legit video of “Atomic Dog” (George Clinton).

  11. LOL, It’s been over 15 years since MTV started switching away from the Music Videos. You just made me feel old as well.

  12. The first video I can remember seeing was Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire”. I would have been about 9 or 10, I think.

  13. “Give It Away” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. My grandmother was scandalized when she discovered me watching it. We had only gotten cable channels that week and I was so excited. MTV was channel 42! So many channels!

  14. Hungry Like The Wolf, by Duran Duran. We were in Flagstaff, AZ while my dad took classes towards his master’s degree in Education and my mom worked, so they weren’t around to monitor our TV watching, and I watched with my younger sister and my older brother. After watching that video, Duran Duran was one of my favorites for years, well into high school, until I discovered Def Leppard. Ahhh, the 80s. *chuckle*

  15. Like others, I cannot remember what the first one was. I do, however, remember filling up 2-3 video tapes (on EP, so six hours a piece) with music videos my sister and I liked. And occasionally staying up late to watch The Headbanger’s Ball at midnight while my mom was at work and my sisters were asleep.

  16. I grew up in a small podunk town, and MTV was my savior. They introduced me to Depeche Mode, OMD, Duran, and countless other British bands. Sigh…they really rocked back then.

    Here’s the first video I remember seeing on MTV: Everything Counts by Depeche Mode.

  17. I missed the first day of MTV for a camping trip. This was on when I got home and I knew I was going to love MTV.

  18. You are old, you are old. Do you wear the bottom of your trousers rolled? (Sorry, “I am old” always evokes Prufrock for me.) (I’m a lot older than you are.)

    I’ve mostly not had cable; I think I may have watched MTV once and seen a Madonna video on it. No idea which.

  19. I wish I could remember the first video I saw there. ALl I remember is desperately wishing they’d play some Ultravox and waiting and waiting for it. Then some Depeche Mode. And the hours of shit videos I sat through and still remember. Dear God in heaven…

    And then VH1? WTF?

  20. Our local fire station was one of the first places to get cable, and that’s where I first saw MTV.

    Really, this says NOTHING about my current tastes: http://youtu.be/zg21Rkew874

    (Or maybe it does…my tastes vary to the point where my IndieCred™ Card is invalid in certain areas.)

  21. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJE_Sc1Wags

    “Sweet Dreams” was not just the first video I saw, but the first rock I ever heard – my parents were country music fans. I was seven, (1983) and imprinted hard on synth pop. Until then, the only music I liked at all were the Looney Tunes Merrie Melodies; I found country actively painful. (I have since learned that the diminished minor chords common to C&W and uncommon elsewhere sound discordant and out of tune to me.) I spent much of my childhood being profoundly disappointed in top 40 radio and MTV because they insisted on playing stuff other than synth pop and new wave. And then they stopped playing videos at all…

  22. Can’t find it online, but the first music video I remember was an animated version of “Big Yellow Taxi” on the Sonny and Cher show pre-MTV.

  23. “Video Killed the Radio Star”. I can’t believe I was actually watching at the station debut.

  24. No Rick Rolls? Party pooper…

    I honestly have no idea what the first music video I ever saw was, but I know Thriller was probably the first one I ever thought was really cool. I can’t get on YouTube from work to post it (firewall); I suspect it’s not there anyway.

  25. Not sure if its the first or not, but its the first one I remember.
    Police- Wrapped Around Your Finger

  26. I am not old — what is this “old”? — but I was there the first week. I remember a lot of Robert Palmer before Power Station. Adam and the Ants — “Stand and Deliver.” The Pretenders’ “Brass in Pocket” (Akron represent!). Split Enz — loved the crap out of all their videos. Ultravox’s “Vienna.”

  27. I don’t remember the first one I saw, I watched the Monkees in reruns a lot so music videos didn’t really sink in as a different concept until much later, but I do remember seeing “Thriller” as an eight year old and being scared witless by it.
    My “God, I’m old” moment came a couple years ago when I was talking about music with some coworkers, mentioned the Violent Femmes, and got nothing but blank stares back.

  28. “Be Good Johnny ” by Men at Work from 1982

    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWofxpq3fgA&w=420&h=315%5D

    The song is written from the viewpoint of a 9-year-old boy who is constantly being told to be good, but prefers to daydream rather than concentrate in class or play sports. Johnny feels like he understands some of his instructions, but also that he is completely misunderstood by the adult world

    I saw it during lunch at Nuts and Bolts in Toronto on a huge widescreen television and was blown away. Nuts and Bolts was one of the breeding grounds of alternative music:


  29. We didn’t have cable yet when MTV started. I was in middle school, and I remember wondering about this MTV thing that the other kids were talking about. We got cable within the next year (so that we could get the Sonics’ Superchannel), but I don’t remember what the first video I saw was. I do remember the old slider cable box, though.

  30. Before MTV, I saw a lot of short films or videos by Chuck Statler. The first was probably the Truth about De-Evolution when it was shown on SNL.

    The first video I remember getting excited about watching on MTV was Jazzin’ for Blue Jean which was a twenty minute version of the Blue Jean video with David Bowie as Screaming Lord Byron and some shlub named Vic.

  31. Yes, when cable TV had corded remote controls with switches and MTV was music, not stupid cartoons, fashion shows and other stupidity….

  32. I sat my year-old baby in front of the TV, and turned on that new cable channel so someday she could tell her grandchildren “I saw MTV when it went on the air!” We saw the astronaut, then – http://youtu.be/Iwuy4hHO3YQ

    And John, thanks for a memory. 4 years ago, we went to see Joe Jackson perform in Vegas as a honeymoon gift to ourselves. Our “just married” song was “19 Forever.” (http://youtu.be/a-fK7dzecmc, in case anyone wants a look/listen)
    We’re as much Joe Jackson fans as fans of the idea that chronological age and mental or emotional age are different things. Yes, we’re old, but we’re also 19 Forever.

  33. A friend once said to me, “I know that the ‘M’ in ‘MTV’ stands for ‘music’ and the ‘V’ for ‘Video’, but what does the ‘T’ stand for?” I hadn’t the heart to explain.

    My early exposure to MTV was only in hotel rooms at SF conventions, because those were the only TVs I had access to that carried cable, so my viewing was necessarily spotty. But I remember one video I thought was clever at the time, though the song was unmemorable: while all the other videos showed the band playing instruments, this one acknowledged it was all mimed by showing the band playing air instruments.

    The first song I came to like because of its video was “Sweet Dreams” by the Eurythmics. I doubt I would have gotten hooked by that song without those arresting visuals.

  34. Ell @10:38 am,

    Oh good, I wasn’t the only one to start running ‘Prufrock.’ That’s an earworm I can get behind. What usually kicks it in for me is around June, when peach season starts…..

  35. I admit, I’m not that old, but we weren’t allowed to watch MTV as kids. We also didn’t really have music around the house; my folks listened to sports radio, or occasionally 70s rock hits. I can count the number of music videos I’ve seen even today on one hand. But this is definitely the first one, watched, open-mouthed, at a hotel before the channel got changed by a flustered parent. I’d never heard a song by a female singer before that wasn’t Ace of Base or the Spice Girls before it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XS088Opj9o0

  36. I also remember “Video Killed the Radio Star”, but then I remember “American Bandstand”, too, so that tells you how old I am. Ancient. Decrepit. Ready for the tar pit. Past my sell-by date. I could go on.

  37. First video I ever saw was Tom Petty’s “You Got Lucky.” A post-apocalyptic scenario where everyone gets together in a shack and plays video games and guitar while they watch the relics of their past civilization on screens. Seems more prophetic than ever some days.

  38. I can’t remember the first video I saw, but I watched a LOT of them. I’d get so angry every day when “Remote Control” came on because they were not playing music.

    I DO remember the NSFW video that resulted in my parents telling me I could no longer watch MTV: George Michael’s “I Want Your Sex” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vldh7oQD-a4)

  39. Not the first, but one of the earliest I remember: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_Pq0xYr3L4 I remember going to a lot of “parties” the summer of 1982 (high school) where we sat around in the dark and watched MTV, adding a lot of MST3K-style audience commentary. My parents didn’t really like us watching MTV (they were kind of scandalized by the Cars’ “Shake It Up” video?) but my mom later got really into Janet Jackson and started watching MTV then. Which was kind of unsettling, actually.

  40. Hard to remember which vids I saw on Friday Night Videos and which on the early days of MTV, but this was definitely one of the first to make a real impression on me: Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush, a great song, and a single take.

  41. Chang R. Terhune says:

    “Wow. I’ll never forget how weird looking Joe Jackson is.

    And how dreary the north of England is. (ducks)”

    I’m assuming that they shot for the dreary look (unless the only actual color in the North of England is brown).

  42. We are not so different, you and I… the first video I saw on MTV was also Joe Jackson, but “Steppin’ Out”.

  43. I wouldn’t bet someone with a time machine a stack of money on it, but I’m pretty sure it was Separate Ways by Journey. I remember thinking it (the video, not the song) was awful. Time and maturity have not altered that opinion one little bit.

  44. “Money For Nothing,” for me, too.

    The thing I miss most about the “M” in MTV is how watching all the best videos of the year on New Year’s Eve was the best part of every NYE in my pre-teen years. They’ll do countdowns, now, but they won’t play the entirety of most of the songs. Makes for a poor NYE dance party, that.

  45. The first music video I watched was a movie. It was called Caveman and had Ringo Star in the cast. At the time, it was a futuristic, dystopian film about people who could walk upright, and use tools and stuff. One of the cast members reminded me of our pet triceratops.

  46. I can’t be sure whether it was on MTV, but I do have vivid memories of this being shown and played almost constantly and it was the first music video I can honestly remember actively watching (possibly due to its quirkiness). John Kettley Is A Weatherman by Tribe of Toffs http://youtu.be/Db6WHtNV5-I

    The first music video I can remember that was definitely MTV was Bryan Adams Everything I Do from Robin Hood:Prince of Thieves.

    Before those I just listened to the music without watching. Although I’ve been informed that Adam Ant’s “Stand and Deliver” video is awesome (and also essentially the movie of Plunkett and McLean compressed into a three minute chunk).

  47. I think we only got cable when the long version of “Thriller” came out (before that, the apartment wasn’t wired for it!). But I watched Friday Night Videos and other free sources of videos before that.

    If anyone gets Palladia, they show a 3 hour block of videos every night/early morning, new or new-ish ones. And of course Pop-Up Video is back on VH1 (best.factoids.ever).

  48. Eddie Money’s “Think I’m in Love” for me: http://youtu.be/MJbBSIFN36k

    (Aside — when we were traveling recently, my daughter I were pleasantly shocked to find Daria reruns playing on MTV, so between that, the occasional season of Best Dance Crew, and Awkward, there’s almost as much good stuff on MTV as when I was first complaining about heir lack of music twenty years ago.)

  49. I clearly remember watching MTV for the first time. We didn’t have cable when I was a kid, and MTV was still a pretty new thing: this was pre-“Thriller,” which I also remember as a watershed moment.

    Over at a friend’s house, we put it on. I was not (and am not) a fan of this song or video, but it was definitely the first one I saw, and even though I didn’t like this one, I was mesmerized by it.


  50. I’m relatively young, and my parents have had cable as far back as I can remember, so I don’t know the first video I saw.

    But the first one that really made an impression on me, as evidenced by my pre-school drawings of that iconic keychain, was this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtIdMwLFeK4

  51. We didn’t have cable, and I live in Denmark, so this was also the first time I saw a foreign tv-station.

  52. I don’t remember the first music video I saw. The Beatles movies set the standard for me, and most of the early videos I saw were straight up performances. The first concept vid I saw was probably one of Devo’s.
    Also, when I bought the Black Keys ‘Brothers’ and turned it over to look at the song titles, I was so happy to see they’d covered ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’. And of course they didn’t, though I’d still like to hear that someday.

  53. It’s still possible to watch music videos thanks to the youtube and such, so while I miss the old MTV, I don’t lose sleep over it.

    What I do miss, though, is the old USA Network series that ran overnight on Fridays “Night Flight”.

  54. Crud! I’m old enough to know that the “M” stood for Mutual, as in the “Mutual Broadcasting system”

    You kids have no idea

  55. “Money for Nothing” is also the first I remember. But the first I remember loving was Thomas Dolby’s “She Blinded Me With Science.” I also have a soft spot for “The Safety Dance”.

  56. The first video I ever saw on MTV was 99 Luft Balloons. Long before MTV before going to school my local TV station would play music videos by Kansas “Dust in the Wind”, KC and the Sunshine Band, Cheap Trick and Styx.

  57. I am waiting for the day that C-Span is all reality TV and I have to tell young people, C-Span used to show live feeds of government and business meetings. I will get ‘no way’.

  58. The first video I ever saw on MTV? I’m pretty damn sure it was Culture Club’s “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?” My Elvis Costello/Softboys/T-Heads loving response was yes, I really do, really badly.

  59. I’m not posting any links to any videos because I’ve never watched MTV. I think that makes me older than you, John.

    Now the first song I remember hearing on my little transistor AM radio I got when I was 11 1/2 years old was A Hard Day’s Night.

  60. I’m not completely sure, but I think that it was either David Bowie’s “Ashes to Ashes” or Peter Gabriel’s “Shock the Monkey”. They both freaked me out – in a good way :)

    It was great background – like having the radio and the TV on all at once but not competing.

  61. Metallica One…Honestly before they made this video I really didn’t give…about MTV…or Metallica…it was a double introduction.

  62. I’m pretty sure it was Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger.” I think I was about 11, or maybe just shy of it. Crazy.

  63. I’ll one-up most of the people on here. I hit my early twenties in the early 80s, and it just *killed* me that my parents wouldn’t get cable. I suppose it shouldn’t have been surprising; until I was 16, in ’77, my parents were members of a strict Anabaptist Christian sect — think Mennonites or Amish, only we had cars. In that sect, TV and radios were forbidden. And even for years after my parents left that church, for the years in the late seventies to mid-eighties, as long as I still lived at home, we *still* didn’t have a TV at home. Anyway, one night in 84-ish, I was out at a club, dancing … yeah, I know, I was rebellious– tell me about it ;-) … and The Police’s Wrapped Around Your Finger played on the big screen by the dance floor. It just blew me away. ( can still remember the experience to this day, watching Sting knock over all those candlesticks with his guitar. Anyway, someone’s linked to that video above, so I won’t duplicate their efforts. But the first memorable video I saw once I got a place of my own, and cable, was Midnight Oil’s Beds Are Burning, on Friday Night Videos. I STILL love that song. Cool video, too! (BTW, this video I am linking to is not the original music video I saw; this one seems to be an extended remix..Never mind that; it’s *still* uber-cool.)

  64. I can’t even remember the first video I saw on MTV…we didn’t have cable at home, so the first time I even watched MTV was when we stayed in a motel in Dumas, TX on our way to Colorado during summer vacation. I couldn’t tear myself away. I needed to see what was up next! I know I saw the Go-Go’s then. We had to make do with Friday Night Videos when I was in college, and they would show videos on occasion (Michael Jackson! Hall & Oates! Was (Not Was)! Morris Day & The Time! Prince!) when we would go dancing at the Oz in East St. Louis. Good times.

  65. I’m another one for the long version of ‘Thriller’ – I won’t duplicate the link. I honestly don’t know if it was the premiere of it, but I remember I had a slumber party that night (I think I was in 3rd grade), and we stayed up ALL THE WAY TILL MIDNIGHT to watch it. We considered ourselves scandalous. Of course, it scared us all half to death, so after that we definitely couldn’t sleep!

  66. I don’t remember which MTV video was the first I saw, but seeing Joe Jackson now was just what I needed after this awful week. Thank you.

  67. Wow, I can’t believe I still remember this.

    Mine was “Turning Japanese” by the Vapors

  68. The first real music video I ever saw was Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody on The Midnight Special. Midnight Special was absolutely the best music show I have ever seen.

  69. Bill Sides @3:04pm I remember the first time I heard “Bohemian Rhapsody”, on the radio. My father pulled the car over so he could listen to it, then told us that “those fellows really know how to compose music, not just twang on guitars.”

  70. Most certainly not the first video I saw, but the first video that definitely made an impression on me… The Wonderland weirdness of Tom Petty’s “Don’t Come Around Here No More”

  71. – “And how dreary the north of England is. (ducks)”
    – “I’m assuming that they shot for the dreary look (unless the only actual color in the North of England is brown).”

    Honestly. You have no idea: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fray_bentos/sets/72157594155559143/

    And I’m old enough to have thought (at the time) that the start of MTV was the end of popular music meaning anything or mattering in any way. It had been a valiant struggle but finally it had been subsumed into the endless tide of corporate product.

  72. The first time I saw MTV I was babysitting for a co-worker of my mom’s. They had the best record collection (oh how that dates me!) and after the baby went to sleep I could watch cable. One night I was flipping channels and found MTV. It blew my mind. The very first video I saw I can’t find for the life of me but this was one that came on after it: Ultravox — Vienna.

  73. Don’t remember the very first video I saw; just remember plopping myself down in front of the TV and being mesmerized for hours when it was added to our cable system. But this Duran Duran song was a big one for me in the early days:

  74. MTV came and went as a source for music videos after I stopped watching TV. Reading Redshirts reminded me that the last thing that I saw on TV was the original Star Trek. Wow. Now *I* feel old. Thanks a lot.

    Get off my lawn!

  75. Not the first, but the first I recall. My best friend had MTV on all the time, but she had cable and I did not. This is the first that made an impression on me (also because I had never heard the band before and was instantly hooked.)

  76. I don’t remember, but I remember they had VJs! JJ Jackson, and Martha Quinn, maybe? Nina Somebody, and some blond guy (sorry, blond guy, that I don’t remember your name). It is killing me not to just Google it…

  77. Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'”:
    It was 1981, I was 13 yrs old, and my parents just got cable TV. The entire family was gathered around while the installer picked up his tools, and I picked up the program listing booklet. “What’s this funny “M” channel?” I grabbed the linear-slide channel controller, set it to “23” and there was Steve Perry in his yellow leopard-print shirt.
    Eventually, my father hooked up an old stereo system & tape deck to the TV in the “kids’ room”, so we could dub the MTV concerts to cassette tape. I still have Cheap Trick around here somewhere…

  78. I just can’t remember exactly, but I think it was Blondie’s “Heart of Glass”.

  79. U2, New Years Day. They were a little known band back then, of course. My sister saw them play in 1984 at her college, in a half-empty show because no one knew who the hell they were!

  80. Also, we didn’t even have cable, despite my father being on the cable board for the entire freaking borough of Queens, New York! (In fairness, our neighborhood was one of the last to get wired up.)

    So I had to see my first MTV at my aunt’s house while on a family vacation. As I recall, she also had 8-track tapes.

  81. I can’t find the live version they played to death on MTV, but U2’s “I Will Follow” made me an immediate fan of both the band and MTV. The last time I’d been so affected by a tune was the first time I heard “I Can’t Explain.”


    For all you Safety Dance fans, here’s the “literal” version:

  82. I didn’t have MTV until several years after its debut; we had cable, but only the first thirteen channels–and even that was a coup, considering how far out in the country we lived. In those days, I only ever saw MTV at the houses of friends; and the earliest video I remember seeing was “Hammer to Fall” by Queen:


    Great song, and they eventually became my favorite band. But I didn’t know much about music back then, and I was flabbergasted when I found out this was the same group that had done “Bohemian Rhapsody”. In fact, I remember wondering, the first time I watched this video, if the band was somehow affiliated with Wham!, since Roger Taylor’s wearing one of those “Choose Life” T-shirts.

    I’ve seen a few recollections in the prior comments of NBC’s Friday Night Videos program that went on in place of David Letterman once a week; does anyone remember Night Tracks on TBS? Every Friday and Saturday night, they just showed videos all night. It was a good move; MTV’s distribution was still limited back then, but TBS was in a lot of the most basic cable packages (it was channel 3 for us), and it was smart of them to take advantage and fill that niche for those of us in the boonies. I watched whenever I could; my main memory was that they added a “Top-Ten” countdown during the first hour, and that “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel was the #1 video for what seemed like months on end–and rightly so…

  83. I think I saw Billy Idol “Dancing With Myself” and Men Without Hats “Safety Dance” about a thousand times.

  84. Bruce Springsteen – Born In The USA. I was all of three years old at the time, visiting some relatives who had cable, and this counts as one of my earliest memories of any sort. I’m still a big fan of the Boss.

    (I’d post the youtube, but the sound & video don’t line up at all, which makes for unpleasant viewing)

  85. Put in another person who saw the very first video they showed, “Video Killed the Radio Star”. I was 6 at the time, it seems kind of surreal to think I watched it.

  86. i don’t know if this was the first i ever saw, but it is the first that i remember seeing as a kid.

  87. As mentioned above, before MTV, The Midnight Special would air videos for some groups when they didn’t have them there to perform and Bohemian Rhapsody was defnitely one of the first to get a lot of attention.. I’d alread amassed a pretty good sized collection of music videos on my VCR before I had cable and could get MTV, including oddities like Devo on the Mike Douglas show and Blondie on Pink Lady and Jeff(!).

  88. Last year of college: “Eve of Destruction” and “Don’t Pay the Ferryman” are the first ones I remember. Unless you count having watched the Monkees. I LMAO when I saw MTV recycling Monkees footage!

  89. A-ha’s “Take on Me” was the first video I remember seeing on MTV. It was so frightening that the cartoon came to life and starting romancing the lady in the video. That damn cartoon haunted my nightmares for years.

  90. The first video was Mr. Big with »To Be With You«. We were visiting some of my parents’ friends and their kids were watching it when we came in. For some reason those dudes sitting in a circle with their instruments left an impression. Or maybe it was the hair.

    The Youtube-versions are useless, but this one works (takes a moment to cue up):


    The internet says the song came out in 1991, and we didn’t have cable at that time, and as far as I remember no satellite either. Being on terrestrial during that time in Germany meant having three or four channels. Yup. Not kidding (we got satellite shortly after that, though, and thus commenced the weekly ritual of watching TNG with the whole family).
    I’m 34 now, and while I don’t think that qualifies as old, I’m still very aware of a sort of cultural divide that happened between me and the people about a half-generation after me. They are the first ones who grew up with the internet already in place, and I think that makes for quite a different experience.

    Anyway. It’s fun to remember the time when being able to see a video with the music felt like something special.

  91. Ah, we ancient ones all remember Video Killed the Radio Star, but do you remember the second music video right after it? Yes, yes Todd Rundgren’s 1981 hit single Time Heals with all the cool Salvador Dali painting imbedded therein. Hope this URL works.
    Just bypass the commercial ad that pops up first (I think)

  92. I was another late adapter, I live in what was a fairly rural part of San Diego County. So cable didn’t get to my neighborhood until sometime in the 90’s.
    Not sure if it qualifies but I saw a Prince performance on Friday Night Videos. I suspect it stuck in my mind because he was dancing around in high heel boots, trench coat and a bananna hammock.
    On the Joe Jackson side of things I saw this recent live performance of Is She Really Going Out With Him. If you are a fan you will enjoy this.
    Now to waste the balance of the evening watching vids.

  93. I worked in Cable TV at the time. I remember installing one of the first TVRO (TV receive only) satellite dishes in to receive it. It was for MTV, WTBS and The Movie Channel. The Company was WOOD TV located in Bowling Green Ohio. Boy if I had a nickel for every one I’ve installed since then, Also I am the archivist and curator for The Old CATV History museum where that slider box is located. That’s how I got here. I saw the hits and came over to visit. I’m glad some of you have enjoyed the blast from the past.

  94. It was forbidden in my Mum’s house, so of course my Uncles loved tweaking her bum and showed me R.E.M.’s Losing My Religion and it blew my mind.

  95. Went over to a friends house. We turned it on. First couple of videos seemed fairly bland. Mostly people from the band standing around pretending to play and lip synching, like it was American Bandstand or something. The third video was Duran Duran something or other. At one point, the lead singer was strapped to the vane of a windmill, the tip of the vane went into some water at the bottom of its sweep, and the singer’s head went underwater. And he just kept singing.

    There were so many things that made absolutely no sense whatsoever, but put it all together and it just looked cool to this kid, and my mind was blown.

    Of course, I thought “The Last Starfighter” was pretty cool back then too.

  96. Can’t remember the first music video I saw, but I do remember when MTV began airing their weekly Top 20 Video Countdowns.

    Their first #1 video was Phil Collins’ “Take a look at me now” from the movie “Against All Odds”

    It reigned for several weeks (4?) before losing the top spot to “Footloose”

  97. Fish Heads, seen at a friend’s house not too long after MTV started. (God, hope that doesn’t earworm anyone else like it does me. Consider that fair warning if you don’t know the song, but choose to click the link anyway.)

  98. And wow, the difference between searching for any of these videos via YouTube versus frantically watching MTV for the chance that you’d see a video, and perhaps hit the “Play” button on the VCR in time to get a taped log of your favorites.

  99. Ok, I’m pretty sure that WHATEVER the 166 people who wrote before me had, I beat it.
    This is Lucy and Ramona and aslo Sunset Sam by Michael Nesmith.
    When I was 19, I quit college for a while and went to New York where I had an interview with some guy named John Lack at a company called WarnerAmex. He mistakenly thought I might be hip. He took me into a conference room and put a 3/4 inch tape on the Umatic. It was this thing, kind of a proto-rock video. he said, “Hey kid, we’re gonna have a channel that shows nothing but these 24 hours a day.What d’ya think? and I , always with my finger on the pulse, said, “who’s gonna watch that?” There you have it. I was an oracle and barely missed being employee #4 at MTV.
    Jon Shestack

  100. i first saw this one because a friend’s brother was a radio programming big shot, and got a copy of Michael Nesmith’s Elephant Parts, which included this one mtv occasionally played that first year: Crusin’ (Lucy and Ramona and Sunset Sam)

    that was the first vid that impacted my hipster self in my early 20s.

    this one came along a year or two later, and i always loved the song: The Lebanon, by Human League

  101. sorry, Jon. i was trying to find my wordpress password, and missed your earlier post. great minds, right?

  102. The first video I saw was “Everybody Dance Now” (I can’t remember the band). I think my parents were the last people on the planet to get cable and I was soooo excited to watch MTV. I was completely ignorant of popular music at time and saw it as an opportunity to “fake it” – watch hours of MTV, teach myself what bands did which songs and act like the cool kids who were fans of music instead of books (I was terribly awkward and trying really hard to be “normal”- whatever that is). For almost the whole video, I thought it was a commercial and was trying to figure out what they were selling (did I mention I was awkward?). When I figured it out, I was really glad I was alone. :)

  103. I remember my father recording Friday Night Videos on the VCR. We were in the back woods even by Adirondack standards (Go Saranac!), which means we had to put our antenna up a tree to get a signal. Every show ended with Madonna’s “Get Into the Groove.”

    “Money for Nothing” was another favorite. My first audio cassette was Brothers In Arms. I think I still have it. “Walk of Life” was also memorable. The video was mostly baseball bloopers.

    The last video I had any interest in was “Around the World” by Daft Punk. I used to watch it in the morning on VH1 while eating breakfast before classes in college.

  104. Why is it that every single station that begins by playing just music videos inevitably drifts into playing bad reality TV? It seems more consistent than the law of gravity. I don’t get it.

  105. I have been reliably told by my sister that I actually saw the first broadcast of the Buggles video – but I don’t remember it.

    The first video I do remember seeing was Ted Nugent’s “Heads Will Roll” from the 1981 live album “Intensities in 10 cities”. I don’t even need to watch it – it still plays in my head upon command.


    I miss ye olde tyme MTV:(

  106. John, if you’re old, I’m old. I remember going on vacation to Laguna Beach. It was my first experience with cable, and I think I may have gone into the ocean once. The rest was watching MTV. This is the first one I remember. Ah, Rio, and she dances on the sand.

  107. 81? 82? Not sure exactly when…
    It happened to be at a science fiction convention (in Tulsa, OK) and the hotel had cable with MTV in the rooms – I’m sure MTV had been on for a while, but I was a Blondie fan and it didn’t register until this:

  108. They showed a lot of the same videos over and over in the early days … so Wall of VooDoo’s “Mexican Radio” would have been one. But Mike Nesmith’s “Rodan” was always one of my favorites.

  109. I watched the premiere. “Video Killed the Radio Star.” I remember being blown away by the whole concept and having a mad crush on Mark Goodman.

  110. Oh my sainted aunt Minnie. I’m an Aussie, we didn’t get MTV. What we got (back in the 1970s and 1980s, when dinosaurs roamed the earth) was Countdown twice a week on the ABC (new episode 6pm Sunday night, repeat of last week’s episode 6pm Saturday night, each of them followed by the football in the slot 6.30pm – 7pm before the news). So the first video clip I can remember sticking with me was “In the Flesh” by Blondie – I must have been all of about five or six.

    In the late 1980s, the ABC decided to vary the format, and started up something called Rage. Rage was basically replacing any programming between about midnight Friday night to noon Saturday with music videos (and often the programming got handed to their “youth” arm who ran the radio station JJJ, so a lot of what showed up in the late night hours was more at the indie end of things) with a “top 50” running between 9am and noon on Saturdays. Then there was a similar thing running from about midnight Saturday until about 8am Sunday morning. I have lots of memories of Saturday mornings in the 1990s spent watching Rage, and also of the various videos which got left out of the whole countdown for various reasons. The one which didn’t get showed which stuck with me was “Drover’s Dog” by Redgum (a satire of the life and times of one Robert James Lee Hawke, to a tune by Sir Arthur Sullivan. I think the song got cut due to a description of the defensive actions of the main character).

    Some of the commercial stations attempted to mimic the MTV thing, but the ABC had one big advantage they didn’t: no ads. Just wall to wall music for hours on end. Good times.

  111. Like a lot of people, I don’t remember the first one I saw, but Mick Jaegger & David Bowie’s Dancing in the Street was an early one for me.

  112. I remember watching MTV when it was new and sparkling and only played music (and when that first wave of game shows got added to the line-up it was actually kind of cool! Remote Control, man!), but I was young enough to be SCARED POOP-LESS* by Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”

    Not, I should mention, the dance number during the actual song. The bit before the music started playing. Yeah. I was that easy to scare. I also hid behind the sofa during the bonus round of Tic-Tac-Dough, because I was afraid of the dragon.

    *Also, I hadn’t pronounced the word “shit” yet in my life by that point.

  113. Oh hey – big high-fives to Constance Edwards, re:

    I spent much of my childhood being profoundly disappointed in top 40 radio and MTV because they insisted on playing stuff other than synth pop and new wave.

    That exactly describes why I fell out of love with hit radio towards the late ’80s or so. Only I didn’t know what to call it — they were just playing less and less of “the good stuff”.

    So I floundered around a bit until a neighborhood friend introduced me to Rush. After I systematically inserted into my brain their entire discography up to that point (Presto), I branched out into classic rock and prog rock, and pretty much turned into “rawr you kids and your so-called ‘music’ these days get off my lawn” while still in high school.

    Since we seem to be comparing channels: MTV was channel 27 for me (New Orleans area).

  114. This probably isn’t the first video I ever saw, but “Words” by Missing Persons was the only video I remember from the first time I ever got to see MTV (at a friend’s house):

    We didn’t have cable but one of the UHF stations showed videos for an hour every day. They had an odd collection of videos, mostly British, and the earliest ones that stuck in my mind were “Night Boat to Cairo” by Madness and “Electric Avenue” by Eddie Grant:
    Funny, I hated “Electric Avenue” at the time and wished they didn’t show it so often, but I just watched it again on Youtube and I enjoyed it much more this time. Nostalgia!

  115. I’m not only old, I’m out of touch. I don’t remember ever actually watching MTV. I didn’t have access to cable until I was long out of college and even then, we, as broke newlyweds, only had the most minimal package. My reaction was “What? MTV does other stuff?”

  116. Glad to see all the love for Nesmith’s “Elephant Parts”. That was our decompression from the world tape for years. I think we wore out at least one copy. Still have it on VHS, LaserDisc, and DVD. And we still quote all the skits. On the entire drive to Worldcon last year, we kept saying “Reno? Who wants to go to Reno?” (No, Rio. Rio DE-Jinero.) And damn if, in Reno, we didn’t run into someone who’s IN that very video!

  117. Per Gibson, the future’s unevenly distributed. I lived in a Brooklyn waterfront loft from 1976 to 1991. Residential density was so low that cable didn’t come until after I’d left for NJ suburbs. So I got the Brooklyn-hipster thing way early, but the MTV thing way late.

  118. Honestly, I can’t remember the vid I first saw on MTV, but I do remember that it was MTV’s 4th anniversary. and that my family just got cable. I also remember surfing around, and catching VH1 in it’s very first month on that same day.

  119. I don’t remember the specific video. I do remember where I was when I first saw MTV. During MTV’s first season someone had wheeled out a TV into the middle of the university union and set it to play MTV continuously as if to say “here, THIS is man’s greatest achievement.”

    Strange coincidence: was listening to Martha Quinn this week on XM radio.

  120. My college dorm installed basic cable with MTV in the Spring of my freshman year. My roommate and I came from homes without cable (GASP!) We watched videos that entire first weekend. My brain’s been mush since. Can’t remember first, but Greg Kihn’s “Jeopardy,” Tom Petty’s “You Got Lucky,” Duran Duran’s “Rio” videos, Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ “Come on Eileen,” The Fixx’s “Red Skies” were in heavy rotation..similar era to many of the above. You’ve got some cred with Joe Jackson leading the way.

  121. It wasn’t on MTV, because I’m in Canada… but the first music video I ever saw was “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins and it was on a Toronto based TV show called “The New Music” hosted by a man named J.D. Roberts who went on to be newscaster John Roberts in the US. :)


    I’ll never forget it. The song blew me away. It was the first time I heard the song too. And it was before Collins went all cheesy. ;)

  122. I even remember the times when we (in Germany) watched MTV to improve our english… until the German Music Channel VIVA launched and MTV tried to compete by more and more native German shows.
    One of the first music videos I recall seeing on MTV is Losing My Religion by REM.

  123. I don’t know what was the first-ever music video I have seen as a kid whether it was before, during or after MTV but I believe that it was “The Pointer Sisters” with “Slow Hands” on BET’s Video Soul in either 1981 or 1982.

  124. It was 1990 and at that time 90 percent of people in germany had not cable tv, Most people had only 2 tv stations

    But my parents bought cable tv and as a 4year old boy i was playing with my he-man and Lego, my mum was cooking and left me alone with MTV Greatest hits

    the first video i saw was PINK FLOYD– learning to fly

    i will never forget that video.

    the second video i saw on mtv was DEPECHE MODE- MASTER AND SERVANT

    over the years and as a teen in the 2000s i was becoming a fan of both DEPECHE and PINK FLOYD

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