Video Killed the Radio Star — but who killed it first?


 
It’s one of the most widely known bits of pop culture trivia—when MTV launched in August of 1981, the very first music video it showed was the prophetic “Video Killed the Radio Star,” a popular single from the Buggles’ Age of Plastic LP. That alone made the cutesy synthpop novelty into the stuff of unforgettable legend, but the telling of the legend typically excludes the song’s origins. Multiple versions of the song predated the one we all know. Buggles Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes had been members of Bruce Woolley & The Camera Club, with whom they originally wrote and recorded the song. There were multiple single versions, like this much more revved-up take on the song than we’re used to:
 

Bruce Woolley and the Camera Club, “Video Killed the Radio Star,” US single
 
This more polished version was the UK single:
 

Bruce Woolley and the Camera Club, “Video Killed the Radio Star,” UK single
 
And here’s a live version from 1979, after the Buggles’ version had become popular:
 

Bruce Woolley and the Camera Club, “Video Killed the Radio Star,” live, 1979
 

 
The Camera Club was quite an incubator for talent. Thomas Dolby was an early keyboardist for the band, and Horn and Downes famously and incongruously went on from the Buggles to join Yes. Later still, Horn became the producer/architect of the radical early work of Art of Noise, while Downes stayed with Yes’ guitarist Steve Howe in the massively successful prog/pop supergroup Asia. Other Camera Club members went on to play in Re-Flex and The Soft Boys, but Woolley himself remained a mostly behind-the-scenes talent as a producer and songwriter, though he has maintained a performance and recording profile—as a theremin player! The man’s CV is actually quite enviable, with credits that include Grace Jones’ Slave to the Rhythm, plus film music for Caddyshack, Toys, and Moulin Rouge.

Motion footage of Woolley in performance is maddeningly elusive—ironically, and kind of comically, no video seems to exist of the original version of “Video Killed the Radio Star.” But on that hunt, I found this clip from 2004—evidently only the Buggles’ second ever live performance of the song, featuring Horn, Downes, and Woolley, plus the original backup singers from the ‘70s single, who still sound just absolutely terrific.
 

Written by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
Killer interview: Henry Rollins shoots the shit with Jerry Lee Lewis, 1995
09.09.2013
09:29 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Henry Rollins
MTV
Jerry Lee Lewis

Rollins and Lewis
 
It’s always a treat to see Henry Rollins interviewing anyone, even more so when it’s one of the early architects of rock ‘n’ roll. Hank’s hosting skills are exceptional. Clearly a fan, he’s very proficient in the relevant rock history, and he knows how to keep an interview interesting. But Jerry Lee Lewis? I mean, hey I love Jerry Lee Lewis’ music, but Jerry Lee Lewis is just as well-known for being a dirtbag as he is for his amazing music.

I don’t expect Rollins to give a damn about petty ethics, of course, but he’s a man with a reputation for being just a teensy bit self-righteous and rigidly moral. It’s weird to watch him interview an artist who very publicly married his 13-year-old cousin, as if there’s not a giant pervy elephant in the room. (And before you go all cultural relativist on me, cousin-marrying was not more common in the south than anywhere else in the US, and while marriages average younger in poorer communities, I can assure you, an adult marrying a 13-year-old would still be considered fucking creepy by every old redneck I know.)

Still, Lewis has great stories about Sun studios, and intergenerational rock ‘n’ roll kibitzing is always a fascinating thing to watch.
 

 

Written by Amber Frost | Discussion
L7 interviewing Nick Cave, George Clinton, The Beastie Boys & more at Lollapalooza 1994


 
L7 on MTV interviewing The Breeders, Green Day, The Beastie Boys, George Clinton, Nick Cave, Mick Harvey, A Tribe Called Quest and more at Lollapalooza 1994. Poet Maggie Estep is also featured.

This was when MTV still had a connection to music.

The bit with George Clinton is ridiculously cool.
 

 
Part two and some awesome live footage of LZ after the jump…

Written by Marc Campbell | Discussion
Cornish Acid: Aphex Twin MTV special from 1996


“Come To Daddy” sleeve painted on “SAW2” cassettes by Sami Havia
 
This is a treat for fans of IDM and ambient music - a 70 minute, 1996 Aphex Twin special from MTV UK’s Party Zone dance program. There’s an interview with Richard James, numerous videos, some live footage from the Big Love festival, and an extended extract from the Warp Records’ film Westworld, a collaboration between Aphex Twin and visual artists Stakker.

There’s always been something about James that has struck me as bratty - from the tales of driving tanks through central London to numerous reports from friends of spending relatively large sums on tickets only for James not to play, or not to play properly. This interview doesn’t really do much to dispel that, but it does give a bit of insight into his working methods at the time, and goddamit his tunes are good. So sit back, relax, and zone out:
 

Written by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
Lagos Party: Two days in Nigeria with Africa’s biggest music stars


 
Dangerous Minds pal Rod Stanley, the editor of the mighty Dazed and Confused magazine, and photographer Chris Saunders recently made a trip to Nigeria and returned with a short film about the country’s vibrant musical scene:

At the end of last year, Dazed travelled to Lagos, Nigeria, for the third annual MTV Africa Music Awards, an event that had drawn performers from all over the continent, as well as a few international names such as Chuck D, Eve and Rick Ross. The real stars for me on this trip though were all the African performers that we spoke to, photographed and partied with while we were there – people like Uganda’s party boys Radio & Weasel, Nigeria’s first lady of R&B Sasha, Angola’s colourful kuduro crew Cabo Snoop, and the Democratic Republic of Congo’s fashion-mad Fally Ipupa.

Many of them told stories of how a lack of a royalty system and widespread music piracy are hampering the development of their music industry, and how they see themselves as a pioneers laying the groundwork for the generation that will follow them. This short film introduces all of the above and more, with some of their music videos and the insanely hectic atmosphere of the city of Lagos itself.

Photo gallery at Dazed Digital.
 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Drew Friedman’s Uncle Louie on MTV’S ‘Liquid Televison’

image
 
Two Uncle Louie segments from MTV’s Liquid Television series, 1994. These were drawn by the fabulous Drew Friedman.

Drew has a new book out ‘Too Soon?: Famous/Infamous Faces 1995-2010’. It’s a collection of scathingly funny portraits of celebrities and politicians.

Subjects (or targets, depending on how you look at it) for Friedman’s pen on the political side include Bill and Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, John McCain, and George W. Bush (with an iconic “W. as Strangelove” image) and his gang. Entertainers include Tiny Tim, Barney Fife, Bob Dylan, Woody Allen, Oprah Winfrey, Barbra Streisand, Jerry Lewis, the Three Stooges, Ellen DeGeneres, and Conan O’Brien. And falling somewhere in the gray area between entertainers and political players (you make the call!) Rush Limbaugh (who blasted Friedman’s George W. Bush image as being of “low artistic quality”), Sarah Palin, and Michael Moore.

 

 

Written by Marc Campbell | Discussion
Jersey Shore: Best Show Ever?
12.11.2009
06:38 pm

Topics:
Media

Tags:
MTV
Jersey Shore
Guidos

image

While not a general fan of the reality TV genre, I did catch the first episode of MTV’s new “Jersey Shore” show online recently and have to say it’s some of the best TV ever. Largely because there’s nothing funnier than NJ Guidos. Especially the prime specimens MTV has picked to star in the show: utterly self-obsessed, plastic freaks with names like “The Situation” (in honor of his abs) and “J-WOWW.” Apparently the MTV offices are getting regular death threats from real guidos incensed at the portrayal of their ilk. Amazing. Cracked did a rundown of the show so far here:

MTV?

Written by Jason Louv | Discussion