I’m pretty sure that today is the first day in my life that I’ve watched MTV. I don’t remember seeing it on any of my trips to the States or during visits with the various friends and family who had the cool old big ass satellite dishes. And no, I’m not counting the useless Canadian MTVs that have existed in one form or another since the early part of this century. Those are dumb and you shouldn’t count them either. Why someone would choose to launch an MTV that basically wasn’t allowed to play music videos due to licensing and competition rules is anyone’s guess, but someone did. Yes, we did used to have competition rules in Canada, believe it or not. Actually, the history of MTV Canada is one of the better flashing neon signs advertising that we no longer do that I’ve seen in a little while. Essentially, through a series of acquisitions, Bell Media wound up owning both MTV and Much Music (Much was the service that the aforementioned rules were protecting) and running them both into the ground.
But anyway, back to real MTV.
It launched at 12:01 A.M. on August 1st, 1981 and these are its first two hours and 20 minutes of life…mostly. The uploader had to remove a couple of the songs to prevent the video from being repeatedly taken down. According to the description, April Wine and Cliff Richard weren’t happy with being included in a pretty important bit of history and wouldn’t change their minds even after the point was politely explained to them. This has me a little bummed out personally, because I’ve always liked April Wine and am taking my folks to see them as a combination Mother’s and Father’s Day gift a couple of weeks from now. You always hope that the people you’re giving your money too will be cooler, even if you know better.
Parts of this are pretty clunky what with the messed up levels and awkward transitions between segments, but it’s hard to overstate just how influential it ended up being.
I wonder how many of those dial position stickers they gave away.