Mudcat Café message #2666234 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #121876   Message #2666234
Posted By: Azizi
27-Jun-09 - 09:52 PM
Thread Name: Michael Jackson's Impact On Music Videos
Subject: RE: Michael Jackson's Impact On Music Videos
I'm trying to determine whether Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" and "Beat It" videos were the the first videos from Black artists to be shown on MTV or not.

See for example this excerpt from Tom McGrath's article "Integrating MTV" that I posted in my 27 Jun 09 - 10:44 AM comment to this thread:

"Ever since the MTV flag was planted in the moon, during the summer of 1981 the channel had positioned itself as the rock and roll station. And because only a handful of black acts-Tina Turner, Prince, Joan Armatrading, the Bus Boys-played what most people called rock and roll anymore, only a few of their clips had been played on that network."

The article goes on to give an account of the how various people advocated for Black artists to have air time on MTV, and how "one week after the song hit no 1 on Billboard's Hot 100. "Billie Jean" video debuted on MTV." "Beat it" arrived a couple of weeks later"...

However, this comment is included in the "Fresh Air" interview:

"The year was 1983. MTV had launched two years earlier, and it's difficult to remember, or imagine, how different a network it was back then. Not only did it play nothing but music videos, 24 hours a day, but it played music videos only by white artists. The performer who broke MTV's unofficial blacklist or whitelist was Jackson, whose song and video for "Billie Jean" was simply too catchy too ignore.


[Italics added by me for emphasis]

Which comment is correct? Were there a few other music videos by Black artists on MTV before Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean"? Is the distinction that "Billie Jean" was the first Black video to receive considerable air play on MTV thus opening the door for other Black music videos?