First music videos aired on MTV

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This is a list of the first music videos broadcast on MTV's first day, August 1, 1981. MTV's first day on the air was rebroadcast on VH1 Classic in 2006.[1][2]

First music videos aired on MTV
Number Song Artist Appearance[3] Notes
1 "Video Killed the Radio Star" The Buggles 1/2
2 "You Better Run" Pat Benatar 1/2 "You Better Run" was the first video by an American artist shown on MTV. A short clip of this video was featured in the first promo ad for MTV, which was broadcast just prior to the start of the video.[4][5]
3 "She Won't Dance with Me" Rod Stewart 1/2 Phil Chen was the first non-white musician to appear on MTV, and "She Won't Dance With Me" was also the first video for an album track to be played.
4 "You Better You Bet" The Who 1/5 "You Better You Bet" was both the 4th and 54th video to be aired on MTV, making it the first video to be shown more than once.
5 "Little Suzi's on the Up" Ph.D. 1/3
6 "We Don't Talk Anymore" Cliff Richard 1/2
7 "Brass in Pocket" The Pretenders 1/2
8 "Time Heals" Todd Rundgren 1/3
9* "Take It on the Run" REO Speedwagon 1/3 * The video begins but ends after a few seconds due to technical difficulties. This was also the first (taped) live recording to appear, taken from the 1981 VHS/Laserdisc Live Infidelity.[6]
10 "Rockin' the Paradise" Styx 1/3 "Rockin' the Paradise" was the first song by a progressive rock group ever played on MTV.
11 "When Things Go Wrong" Robin Lane and the Chartbusters 1/2 "When Things Go Wrong" was the first video by a Boston-based band to appear on MTV.
12 "History Never Repeats" Split Enz 1/2 "History Never Repeats" was the first music video by a New Zealand band ever played on MTV.
13 "Hold on Loosely" .38 Special 1/3 "Hold on Loosely" was the first Southern rock song to appear on MTV.
14 "Just Between You and Me" April Wine 1/5 "Just Between You and Me" was the first music video by a Canadian musical artist ever played on MTV. From their 1981 Live in London video.
15 "Sailing" Rod Stewart 1/2 Stewart became the first artist to have two different videos played on MTV. "Sailing" was also the oldest song to be shown that day, having been released in 1975.
16 "Iron Maiden" Iron Maiden 1/2 From the band's Live at the Rainbow video. "Iron Maiden" was also the first heavy metal song shown on MTV.
17 "Keep on Loving You" REO Speedwagon 1/3 "Keep On Loving You" was the first Billboard Hot 100 number-one hit song to be played on MTV.
18 "Bluer Than Blue" Michael Johnson 1/2
19 "Message of Love" The Pretenders 1/4
20 "Mr. Briefcase" Lee Ritenour 1/2
21 "Double Life" The Cars 1/2
22 "In the Air Tonight" Phil Collins 1/5
23 "Looking for Clues" Robert Palmer 1/3
24 "Too Late" Shoes 1/1 "Too Late" was the first power pop song played on MTV, and also the first video to be played only once in a day.
25 "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers 1/4
26 "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy" Rod Stewart 1/2 Screen is blank while the audio still plays, stops after 15 seconds.
27 "Surface Tension" Rupert Hine 1/2
28 "One Step Ahead" Split Enz 1/3
29 "Baker Street" Gerry Rafferty 1/2 "Baker Street" was the first video by a Scottish musician to be aired on MTV.
30 "I'm Gonna Follow You" Pat Benatar 1/3
31 "Savannah Nights" Tom Johnston 1/2
32 "Lucille" Rockestra 1/3 Featuring Paul McCartney, thereby making this the first appearance of a Beatle on MTV.
33 "The Best of Times Styx 1/3
34 "Vengeance" Carly Simon 1/1
35 "Wrathchild" Iron Maiden 1/4
36 "I Wanna Be a Lifeguard" Blotto 1/1
37 "Passion" Rod Stewart 1/2
38 "Oliver's Army" Elvis Costello 1/2
39 "Remote Control / Illegal" The Silencers 1/2 Two songs combined into a single video.
40 "Angel of the Morning" Juice Newton 1/1 This was the first video by a predominantly country music-oriented artist to be played on MTV.
41 "Little Sister" Rockpile with Robert Plant 1/4 From Concerts for the People of Kampuchea
42 "Hold On to the Night" Bootcamp 1/2 "Hold On to the Night" was the first song by a Baltimore-based band to be played on MTV.
43 "Dreamin'" Cliff Richard 1/2
44 "Is It You" Lee Ritenour 1/3
45 "Tusk" Fleetwood Mac 1/1
46 "He Can't Love You" Michael Stanley Band 1/2
47 "Tough Guys" REO Speedwagon 1/2
48 "Rapture" Blondie 1/2 "Rapture" was the first rap music video ever played on MTV.
49 "Don't Let Go the Coat" The Who 1/2
50 "Ain't Love a Bitch" Rod Stewart 1/1
51 "Talk of the Town" The Pretenders 1/3
52 "Can't Happen Here" Rainbow 1/3
53 "Thank You for Being a Friend" Andrew Gold 1/1
54 "You Better You Bet" The Who 2/5
55 "Bring It All Home" Gerry Rafferty 1/1
56 "Sign of the Gypsy Queen" April Wine 1/2 "Sign of the Gypsy Queen" was the longest song played on the first day, clocking in at 6:26. From their 1981 Live in London video.
57 "The Man with the Child in His Eyes" Kate Bush 1/1
58 "Message of Love" The Pretenders 2/4
59 "All Night Long" Rainbow 1/2
60 "Boys Keep Swinging" David Bowie 1/2
61 "Rat Race" The Specials 1/2 "Rat Race" was the first video by a band with black musicians to appear on MTV.
62 "Just Between You and Me" April Wine 2/5
63 "Once in a Lifetime" Talking Heads 1/1
64 "Victim" Bootcamp 1/2
65 "Tonight's the Night (Gonna Be Alright)" Rod Stewart 1/1
66 "Cruel to Be Kind" Nick Lowe 1/1
67 "A Little in Love" Cliff Richard 1/2
68 "Take It on the Run" REO Speedwagon 2/3
69 "Wild-Eyed Southern Boys" .38 Special 1/2
70 "Wuthering Heights" Kate Bush 1/1
71 "Celebrate the Bullet" The Selecter 1/2
72 "More Than I Can Say" Leo Sayer 1/2
73 "A Message to You, Rudy" The Specials 1/1
74 "In the Air Tonight" Phil Collins 2/5
75 "Heart of Glass" Blondie 1/1
76 "Oh God, I Wish I Was Home Tonight" Rod Stewart 1/2
77 "Kid" The Pretenders 1/1
78 "Wrathchild" Iron Maiden 2/4
79 "Come What May" Lani Hall and Herb Alpert 1/2
80 "I Got You" Split Enz 1/1
81 "Sister Disco" The Who 1/2
82 "Fashion" David Bowie 1/2
83 "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers 2/4
84 "Love Stinks" The J. Geils Band 1/1
85 "Johnny & Mary" Robert Palmer 1/2
86 "Tomorrow Night" Shoes 1/1
87 "Lucille" Rockestra 2/3
88 "Rockin' the Paradise" Styx 2/3
89 "Prime Time" The Tubes 1/1
90 "One Step Ahead" Split Enz 2/3
91 "Hold on Loosely" .38 Special 2/3
92 "Cruel You" Shoes 1/1
93 "Little Sister" Rockpile with Robert Plant 2/4 From Concerts for the People of Kampuchea
94 "Calling All Girls" Hilly Michaels 1/1
95 "Keep on Loving You" REO Speedwagon 2/3
96 "I Was Only Joking" Rod Stewart 1/1
97 "You Better You Bet" The Who 3/5
98 "Time Heals" Todd Rundgren 2/3
99 "Let's Go" The Cars 1/1
100 "Just Between You and Me" April Wine 3/5
101 "Mr. Briefcase" Lee Ritenour 2/2
102 "Fashion" David Bowie 2/2
103 "I'm Gonna Follow You" Pat Benatar 2/3
104 "Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio?" The Ramones 1/1
105 "Ridin' the Storm Out" REO Speedwagon 1/1
106 "Looking for Clues" Robert Palmer 2/3
107 "Little Suzi's on the Up" Ph.D. 2/3
108 "Is It You" Lee Ritenour 2/3
109 "You're in My Heart" Rod Stewart 1/1
110 "Talk of the Town" The Pretenders 2/3
111 "The Best of Times" Styx 2/3
112 "So Long" Fischer-Z 1/1
113 "In the Air Tonight" Phil Collins 3/5
114 "I Don't Want To Know" Robin Lane and the Chartbusters 1/1
115 "Don't Let Go the Coat" The Who 2/2
116 "Go Back Home Again" Andrew Gold 1/1
117 "Message of Love" The Pretenders 3/4
118 "Remote Control / Too Illegal" The Silencers 2/2
119 "Time for Me to Fly" REO Speedwagon 1/1
120 "Wrathchild" Iron Maiden 3/4
121 "She Won't Dance with Me" Rod Stewart 2/2
122 "Rough Boys" Pete Townshend 1/1
123 "History Never Repeats" Split Enz 2/2
124 "Dangerous Type" The Cars 1/1
125 "Turn It On Again" Genesis 1/1 From Three Sides Live.
126 "Rapture" Blondie 2/2
127 "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers 3/4
128 "Can't Happen Here" Rainbow 2/3
129 "We're So Close" Carly Simon 1/1
130 "Tough Guys" REO Speedwagon 2/2
131 "Passion" Rod Stewart 2/2
132 "Kid Blue" Louise Goffin 1/1
133 "Little Sister" Rockpile with Robert Plant 3/4 From Concerts for the People of Kampuchea
134 "Vienna" Ultravox 1/1
135 "Sign of the Gypsy Queen" April Wine 2/2
136 "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding" Elvis Costello and the Attractions 1/1
137 "Don't Let Him Go" REO Speedwagon 1/2
138 "I Won't Let You Down" Ph.D. 1/1
139 "Holiday" Nazareth 1/1
140 "You Better You Bet" The Who 4/5
141 "All Night Long" Rainbow 2/2
142 "Video Killed the Radio Star" The Buggles 2/2
143 "You Better Run" Pat Benatar 2/2
144 "Surface Tension" Rupert Hine 2/2
145 "One Step Ahead" Split Enz 3/3
146 "Wild-Eyed Southern Boys" .38 Special 2/2
147 "In My Arms Again" Shoes 1/1
148 "Is It You" Lee Ritenour 3/3
149 "Oh God, I Wish I Was Home Tonight" Rod Stewart 2/2
150 "Passing Strangers" Ultravox 1/1
151 "Just Between You and Me" April Wine 4/5
152 "Turning Japanese" The Vapors 1/1
153 "Rockin' the Paradise" Styx 3/3
154 "Bluer Than Blue" Michael Johnson 2/2
155 "Message of Love" The Pretenders 4/4
156 "Rat Race" The Specials 2/2
157 "Roll with the Changes" REO Speedwagon 1/1
158 "In the Air Tonight" Phil Collins 4/5
159 "Hold On to the Night" Bootcamp 2/2
160 "Double Life" The Cars 2/2
161 "Take It on the Run" REO Speedwagon 3/3
162 "We Don't Talk Anymore" Cliff Richard 2/2
163 "Sister Disco" The Who 2/2
164 "Celebrate the Bullet" The Selecter 2/2
165 "More Than I Can Say" Leo Sayer 2/2
166 "I Hope I Never" Split Enz 1/1
167 "Talk of the Town" The Pretenders 3/3
168 "Hold on Loosely" .38 Special 3/3
169 "Blondes Have More Fun" Rod Stewart 1/1
170 "Wrathchild" Iron Maiden 4/4
171 "Savannah Nights" Tom Johnston 2/2
172 "I'm Gonna Follow You" Pat Benatar 3/3
173 "Don't Let Him Go" REO Speedwagon 2/2
174 "Never Let Her Slip Away" Andrew Gold 1/1
175 "Time Heals" Todd Rundgren 3/3
176 "Brass in Pocket" The Pretenders 2/2
177 "Little Sister" Rockpile with Robert Plant 4/4 From Concerts for the People of Kampuchea
178 "A Little in Love" Cliff Richard 2/2
179 "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy" Rod Stewart 2/2
180 "Victim" Bootcamp 2/2
181 "Baker Street" Gerry Rafferty 2/2
182 "He Can't Love You" Michael Stanley Band 2/2
183 "Looking for Clues" Robert Palmer 3/3
184 "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers 4/4
185 "Keep on Loving You" REO Speedwagon 3/3
186 "When Things Go Wrong" Robin Lane and the Chartbusters 2/2
187 "Little Suzi's on the Up" Ph.D. 3/3
188 "The Best of Times" Styx 3/3
189 "Sailing" Rod Stewart 2/2
190 "You Better You Bet" The Who 5/5
191 "Iron Maiden" Iron Maiden 2/2
192 "Can't Happen Here" Rainbow 3/3
193 "Oliver's Army" Elvis Costello 2/2
194 "Just Between You and Me" April Wine 5/5
195 "Come What May" Lani Hall and Herb Alpert 2/2
196 "Tattooed Love Boys" The Pretenders 1/1
197 "In the Air Tonight" Phil Collins 5/5
198 "Peter Gunn Theme/Remote Control" The Silencers 1/1
199 "Dreamin'" Cliff Richard 2/2
200 "Lucille" Rockestra 3/3
201 "Boys Keep Swinging" David Bowie 2/2
202 "Johnny & Mary" Robert Palmer 2/2
203 "Only the Strong Survive" REO Speedwagon 1/1
204 "Waiting for the Weekend" The Vapors 1/1
205 "You're Insane" Rod Stewart 1/1
206 "Kiss on My List" Hall & Oates 1/1
207 "Living in the Plastic Age" The Buggles 1/1
208 "Lonely Boy" Andrew Gold 1/1

MTV day one stats[edit]

  • Artist with most total appearances: Rod Stewart (16)
  • Artist with most videos: Rod Stewart (11)
  • First artist to have more than one video played: Rod Stewart
  • First video to be played twice: The Who, "You Better You Bet" (this was also the first video to be played three, four and five times)
  • Most played videos: The Who's "You Better You Bet", April Wine's "Just Between You And Me" and Phil Collins' "In The Air Tonight" were each played five times
  • Total number of videos played: 116 (each video counted only once, no matter how many times it was repeated)

References[edit]

  1. ^ "VH1 Classic to show MTV's first day on air", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 31, 2006.
  2. ^ Daniel Rubin, "Blinq: After 25 years, do you still want your MTV?" Philadelphia Inquirer, August 1, 2006  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required).
  3. ^ This column indicates how many times the video was played on MTV's first day, and for videos with multiple plays on that day, which play it was. For example, an entry of "1/2" means that this was the first time the particular video was played that day out of two total plays.
  4. ^ MTV First Day of Broadcast
  5. ^ (source video)
  6. ^ MTV's 1st Technical Difficulty (MTV First Day of Broadcast 8/1/81)

External links[edit]

Video links[edit]