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Early Days of MTV

Before MTV came along, rock radio made zero sense to yours truly. I was familiar with Kiss and Queen, and while flipping through rock mags, noticed that bands such as the Ramones, the Pretenders, Cheap Trick and Van Halen looked mighty cool - but I could forget about hearing them ever on mainstream radio, as it seemed to play only blah, boring schlock. And then... MTV came along.

Suddenly, I could actually hear and see what the heck all these artists were about. But it seemed like almost as soon as MTV arrived (It launched on August 1, 1981, but my town didn't get it until the summer of '82), its programming became increasingly regimented, and the charming, low-budget quality of early videos was soon replaced with mega-buck clips that tried to compete with full-length films.

Still, it was MTV's early years that stuck out as a favorite of mine, and I had always wanted to read a book that explained how the channel came to be, the stories behind both classic and obscure videos, and the upside and downside of the channel's popularity and influence on the industry and with viewers. After conducting over 75 interviews with VJs, directors, musicians, and MTV executives/employees, my fifth book overall, MTV Ruled the World: The Early Years of Music Video, was issued in early 2011.

I pulled some tidbits straight from the book for this quiz. Can you spot the facts from the fakes?
~Greg Prato

MTV Ruled the World: The Early Years of Music Video is available as both a paperback and download here.
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Comments: 8

I remember when it first came on. I was in college on the radio station and was totally enthralled. My dad came in the living room one day when Culture Club was on and took one look at Boy George and said "WTF is THAT???". Now it's just full of bullcrap reality shows. I say bring back the music!Diane from Las Vegas, Nv
4 correct. Ouch. I was 14 or 15 when it started. I miss the channel from back then.

They had some of the craziest videos on that nobody today remembers. There's one... I've tried to find it but can't. Basicially the video had a bunch of guy dressed like Elvis, with exaggerated hair, and they were singing a song called "Pelvisize" or something. But I get nothign when I google that. I KNOW I saw it... The video has them singing on a white stage, and at the end of the song they go "Pelvisize.... pelvisize... pelvisizzzzze... " and it fades off. False memory maybe?
James from Vidalia, Ga
I actually remember seeing the first airing of "Video killed the radio star". I was like 9.Sandy
I was 15 in the summer of 1980; prime demographic for MTV! Before then, there was a channel that played popular music with swirly patterns (kind of like a screensaver) that we would actually watch. Psychedelic!Karen from Manchester, Nh
9/10 - w00t! I'm still gonna go get the book. Fun times.Willie from Scottsdale, Az
Good memories from early college days and it was videos 24/7 for the first few years. I sure bombed this with three correct.Brent from Ca
Didn't have cable till 1990. Miss MTV and VH1 when they were all music videos and related programming. Especially VH1's 70s and 80s video shows.70s Flashback from Staten Island, Ny
Caught on to MTV in Aug. '81 at the age of 21. Many of the vids were lame early on, but it was SO great to see your favorite bands, mine being The Who, to play their concert vids or staged videos at a time when there was very little access to your band outside going to their concerts. A great time to be a music fan and like anything new, itended too soon!Tom Massett from Syracuse Ny