Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Buggles: MTV's first video on 8/1/81

In case you hadn't heard: MTV is celebrating its 30th anniversary this weekend with a marathon of old clips from various shows and specials (Yo! MTV Raps, the VMAs, Unplugged, Live Aid, The Real World, Remote Control, Cribs, Spring Break, Beavis & Butthead, etc.) in random order on VH1 Classic.

The first-ever MTV hour will be rebroadcast at midnight Aug. 1.

With that in mind, I thought I'd share this brief excerpt from my interview with former Buggles keyboardist Geoff Downes in 2006. He was touring with a reunited Asia and I asked his thoughts on "Video Killed the Radio Star" - the first clip aired on MTV.

Q: How does it feel to be part of music history with The Buggles and MTV?
It is an honor. I’m certainly proud of that achievement, because it comes up a lot in [trivia questions]: ‘What was the first video on MTV?’ I’m very proud of the fact that was used. Ironically, it was not a hit in America at the time, since it was released two years earlier in Europe and was only a minor hit in America [reaching #40 on the Billboard Top 100 on Dec. 15, 1979]. I think it’s something to be remembered and it’s a nice piece of history to be associated with.

Q: So when this upstart cable television channel wanted to use your video, you probably thought, ‘sure, no problem.’
We didn’t have any clue how MTV was going to be received, long-term. I think in many ways, it helped Asia in the early period because we were synonymous with MTV the following year and after, our videos were very high profile on MTV. Asia grew with the station as well. It seems to have more significance now.

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