On this day in 1981, MTV makes its debut on US television, effectively kicking off a cultural phenomenon which continues to this day.
Prior to 1981, music videos certainly existed, but were only created for the purpose of promoting bands which were already popular. Sensing a growing need for a musical television program that fans could watch, and following a few years of failed efforts to launch such a program, network co-creator John Lack and Robert Pittman finally see success in 1981.
On August 1st, 1981, MTV is formally launched in America, allowing music fans far greater access to the music videos of their favourite bands. Calling it “The best of TV, combined with the best of radio,” the channel’s first song, ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’, by Buggles, is oddly prophetic, and refers to the burgeoning cultural phenomenon that those who are tuned in are witnessing.
Six years later, on August 1st, 1987, MTV Europe launches, where the first song played is Dire Straits’ ‘Money For Nothing’. The song’s opening line is “I want my MTV,” sung by Sting of The Police.
Check out MTV’s first broadcast:
The First 10 Songs Played on MTV
1. ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’ – Buggles
2. ‘You Better Run’ – Pat Benatar
3. ‘She Won’t Dance with Me’ – Rod Stewart
4. ‘You Better You Bet’ – The Who
5. ‘Little Suzi’s on the Up’ – Ph.D.
6. ‘We Don’t Talk Anymore’ – Cliff Richard
7. ‘Brass in Pocket’ – The Pretenders
8. ‘Time Heals’ – Todd Rundgren
9. ‘Take It on the Run’ – REO Speedwagon
10. ‘Rockin’ the Paradise’ – Styx