I Want My MTV by Rob Tannenbaum & Craig Marks


Growing up in Canada we didn’t get MTV in the ’80s. (What we got was our own video station called MuchMusic). MTV was a big business when I was in high school as they played way more hard rock videos than what MM offered here in Canada.

A guy in high school had a huge satellite dish in the mid-80s and various times during the year we would go over to his place to watch the debut showing of the latest Van Halen or Def Leppard videos. I still recall watching “KISS- Animalize Live and Uncensored” at his place the very first time MTV showed it. (early 1985) We were blown away as Canada’s MuchMusic even though it was good would not show that kind of stuff. 

“Now look at them yo-yo’s that’s the way you do it
You play the guitar on the MTV
That ain’t workin’ that’s the way you do it
Money for nothin’ and chicks for free”

I Want My MTV is put brilliantly together by Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum who did over 400 interviews with directors, executives, producers, artists, VJs, and anyone else associated with the industry of MTV from its beginnings in ‘81 to the end of the music video era in ’92. 

The pic below sums it up perfectly…

Crazy to think that MTV when it began its run on Cable TV and even though it was based in New York. None of the NY cable companies would touch it. 

It was places like Tulsa Oklahoma and secondary markets that broke MTV, not the big U.S cities where all the main cable providers said that MTV would be done in a year.

Tons of great Chapters(see the picture above, how can that not get you psyched out) as one chapter focuses on David Bowie calling out VJ Mark Goodman out on why MTV for not playing Black Artists in 1983. Check it out below. Bowie tunes Goodman up. 

Michael Jackson basically changed that with the release of Thriller and Beat It. MTV took the stance of playing only ‘Rock’ videos so they said Jackson wasn’t rock until all of sudden Eddie Van Halen plays the solo on “Beat It” and MTV  basically says ‘Yep that’s Rock so add it to the rotation” Plus the time when umm, well read the excerpt below!

Rap had the same problem as well getting onto MTV than came the Run- DMC and “Walk This Way” by Aerosmith mashup broke down those barriers.

DMC tells the cool story of how they had Aerosmith’s “Toys in The Attic” in a crate with other records as they dug that drum intro which goes into the guitar riff.

DMC says that when they would talk about the song they would only know it by “Toys In The Attic”-Track 4 which was “Walk This  Way”. 

Run- DMC had no idea that the band was called Aerosmith or for that matter, they had no idea who Steven Tyler and Joe Perry were.  They had no idea the title of the song. Run- DMC only knew the song as track 4!

A contestant who won a Lost Weekend in Detroit with Van Halen was just that!


Any guesses on what video Chapter 21 is about?

This is such a great read as it goes year by year. The MTV Awards became a yearly staple at MTV.  Funny how to read stories about how Madonna basically stole the performance that year (1984) and made her a household name.

You can read about how MTV execs convinced Mick Jagger to say “I want my MTV” for $1. Or that the car on the cover of a ZZ Top album cost $250,000, so they put it in their videos to get the tax deduction! How video directors would all bid for the same jobs and at times it would get ugly between them. Better yet how about when Guns N Roses were the biggest band in the late to early ’90s. Axl had one of his friends hired at MTV to host Headbangers Ball. As Axl told his pal (Riki Rachtman) “You want the job at MTV? I’ll make the call!”


 Just read below as it pretty much sums up an 80s boardroom meeting at MTV!

Gene Simmons! LOL

Sorry for the shotty pics folks it’s the best I could do!

This book is full of stories about rockstars, dwarves, models, and drugs. How MTV almost did not make it into a second season or for that matter the second-ever video as after The Buggles Video Killed The Radio Star Was Played the screen went black.(in case your wondering Pat Benetars You Better Run was the second video played) The perseverance of the original creators of MTV (Bob Pittman, John Sykes-not the Whitesnake fella, and John Lack) was very instrumental in getting MTV into all the homes in the U.S.A.

Amazing Read!

35 thoughts on “I Want My MTV by Rob Tannenbaum & Craig Marks”

  1. Great info! I remember staying up all night watching MTV at my cousin’s house in Nashville. My small little town didn’t get it til a while later….I loved Martha Quinn

    I just downloaded the e-book. The one thing I remember the most is MTV showed the Beatles rooftop concert which I had never seen before up until then. All I had were pictures of that performance…seeing them move made it real.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s funny Max whenever I went to the States with my parents I would almost barricade myself in the hotel room watching MTV just to watch Metal videos. lol
      You will enjoy the read as I only scratched the surfaces of stories. So many…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This looks really entertaining. You had to have satellite or whatever to get anything like that here so I never had any equivalent growing up. Just whatever chart programmes were on and there was usually an hour of heavy stuff buried at 3pm in the morning that you had to set a video timer for!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I thought the title said ‘I Want My MTV Back’ before doing a double-take. Because in all honesty, we all want MTV to go back to how it was before with Def Leppard, Guns N Roses, Van Halen, and Bon Jovi were taking over the televisions. Now we’re stuck with ‘Teen Mom,’ ‘Ridiculousness,’ ‘Catfish,’ and other reality crap.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. MTV was my mainstay TV in the early and mid 80’s. That is all I watched. Okay, a lot in the late 80’s too…alright all the 80’s, I watched it most of the decade. I need to get this and read it. Great write-up Deke!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks John.
      Like I said one guy at our school had a dish. So he would come to school and say ‘Hey! Just saw the new Ratt video for ‘Dance’!” Than 3 months later MM here in Canada would play it. lol

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That point is driven home big time in the book. Your video did not get past the 12 people in the boardroom. Good luck.
        I mean look how far Simmons went! lol

        Liked by 1 person

  5. You see, when MTV came to Australia in the mid 80s, it was just for a few hours on Friday night and a few hours on Saturday night. Like Canada we had other music shows like Sounds, Countdown, Beatbox, Rage and others I can’t remember.
    And isn’t it funny how Mr Squier can’t shake that video clip.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “the car on the cover of a ZZ Top album cost $250,000, so they put it in their videos to get the tax deduction!”

    Fun fact: Any time you see a fancy car or a guitar in the background of one of these, an executive is writing off something in his personal collection!

    Solid write-up, sir! You have me wanting to read this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Dude..
      Cool to read the backstories on these videos. Budgets were crazy back than. A 60 grand video was considered a budget clip. lol
      Thats crazy!
      You would enjoy this..

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It was all about getting on certain pick times and to read about how directors would get downright nasty when bidding on videos was something I had never heard of either
        Great eye opener and of course payola! Lol

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m sure people were being paid off big time. “Get my crappy bands video on heavy roatation and I’ll give you X amount of dollars!”

        The book at one point says that basically Micheal Jackson/Madonna and GNR were running MTV as whatever they wanted they got. Really crazy how those artists were calling the shots.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Good question about the Worst video chapter – I remember seeing one list that put ‘We Built This City’ at #1, perhaps that earned(?) the top spot here too!
    Sue’s school might have the same signs, all over the floors at our school are stickers saying “Walk This Way,” so I find I have Run DMC & Steven in my head a lot these days!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.