MTV ain’t what it used to be.
Before it became its current repository for bad reality TV, the cable/satellite network permanently changed the music industry and pop culture at large. And now, thanks to one internet archivist, you can relive MTV’s first decade.
Using Internet Archive, a nonprofit online library, the archivist uploaded a trove of individual MTV broadcasts from 1981 to 1991, which can now be streamed or downloaded. This collection includes MTV’s first-ever broadcast from Aug. 1, 1981 — a four-hour music video spree kicked off by the Buggles’ now-famous “Video Killed the Radio Star.”
“This is my personal collection of 80’s MTV VHS recordings,” the archivist explained on the download page. “I’ve been collecting recordings of full, unedited, WITH commercials & especially the VJs for years. I’ve found these videos from old websites, torrent sites, sharing things, The Original MTV VJs Facebook page, and of course the Archive.”
Some of these videos, such as that first four-hour broadcast, have existed elsewhere online, and have been made available on DVD, for years now. This new collection, however, is far more comprehensive. And its archivist says the collection will be constantly updated with more material. Among the many files available in this new archive: MTV’s second annual “New Year’s Eve Rock n’ Roll Ball” from Dec. 31, 1982; guest VJ episodes with Eddie Murphy, Huey Lewis and Billy Idol; and MTV’s “Halloween Thriller Special with Vincent Price.”
“The first couple years of Music Television really was the wild west, where just about any band that had videos could get them played on the fledgling cable channel that made a big deal about being ‘The World’s First 24-Hour Stereo Video Music Channel,’ even if in those early days you had to have satellite TV or be in an area that had a FM radio simulcast to get it in stereo,” music blog BrooklynVegan recently reported. “Those years, with original VJs Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, JJ Jackson, Martha Quinn, and Alan Hunter were loose, raw and fun.”