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MTV Celebrates 30 Years – Watch the First Hour of Programming From 1981

MTV, the network that pioneered the concept of “music television,” turns 30 years old on Monday. It's a somewhat muted celebration in our minds, as sadly the network hardly seems to play actual music these days. But almost as soon as it first launched, the channel changed the music world dramatically, and the effects are still being felt to this day. Here's the classic first hour of MTV as it aired at 12:01 AM on August 1, 1981:


MTV’s First Hour: Segment One



The now-famous space launch commercial sets the stage for MTV's first-ever video, which everyone knows was the appropriately titled 'Video Killed The Radio Star' by The Buggles. But do you know who was second? That's right, Pat Benatar.



MTV’s First Hour: Segment Two



We meet the first “VJ,” or video jockey, Mark Goodman, check out some hysterically outdated commercials (where would an iPad fit into “The Bulk” binder, exactly?) and then get loose with the classic rock one-two punch of Rod Stewart and the Who.



MTV’s First Hour: Segment Three



REO Speedwagon (who we just interviewed) promote their upcoming live concert special, PH.D. unveils a butcher-shop themed video, England's Cliff Richard soft-rocks us a bit, then the Pretenders swoop in with the classic 'Brass in Pocket.'



MTV’s First Hour: Segment Four



Todd Rundgren (who we also talked to a while back) starts us off with 'Time Heals,' and then Styx comes in with their uptempo two-part mini-epic “Rockin' the Paradise.'



MTV’s First Hour: Segment Five



Oh my goodness, the Atari 2600! That commercial, and a news item on the return of the Ramones are your classic rock highlights, sandwiched between videos from Robin Lane and the Chartbusters (apparently not!) and Split Enz.



MTV’s First Hour: Segment Six



.38 Special start us off right with a straight-ahead performance video for their radio staple 'Hold On Loosely,' we get re-acquainted with April Wine, and then finally, Rod Stewart pops up with another song (remember, MTV didn't have many videos at the beginning!)


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