Behind the Music

According to I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution (Dutton), the greatest thing to happen to popular music in the 1980s almost didn’t happen at all. The plan to launch a 24-hour music channel was initially greeted with derision. “Businessmen of wealth and experience—worldly men who ran record companies and partied with rock stars, and visionary men who made fortunes by anticipating the explosion of cable TV—scoffed and snickered,” write music industry journalists Rob Tannenbaum and Craig Marks.

But the channel exploded, in part because musicians of every stripe loved the concept as much as their fans did. Five years after its launch, the network was the object of a $525 million bidding war. Since then, MTV has evolved away from music and toward reality programming. Drawing on more than 400 interviews, I Want My MTV tells the story of the people who remember the channel for what it was: a truly revolutionary way for young people to experience music.—Mike Riggs

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