Remember that very popular track by Dire Straits? (listening to it as I type this post, as a matter of fact, it’s on repeat). I grew up watching MTV religiously, as well as BET’s Video Soul, VH1, and other similar music video shows broadcasted all day and into the late night. It was an era when such shows bridged the hit songs you heard on commercial radio with their video debuts that we were all very excited to see. This videos, many times, were everything from conceptual works of art to live performances of the singer and/or band that performed the song. There was a certain excitement brought by the host of the show segment that sometimes had you on the edge of your seat clamoring for this hot debut. As a bonus, your host would actually interview the artist or band. Here’s a favorite video of mine – Donnie Simpson on Video Soul interviewing The Time, Pt 1. Donnie Simpson on Video Soul interviewing The Time, Pt 1.
This video shows not only brought the visual aspects to the records we loved, right into your living room, so to speak, but gave the records an entirely different dimension of the song, but there were also the live music shows prior to the “MTV era”. I was a musician growing up in the 70s, picking up the guitar in 1977 and having these following shows on TV were paramount to my early development and growth as a guitarist:
- Soul Train
- Soul Alive (the local NYC Soul Train copycat)
- Don Kirschner’s Rock Concert (DKRC)
- Midnight Special
All these shows brought the live artist/band concert vibe, again, into your living room. I can remember watching both DKRC and Midnight Special well into 1am when they were finishing up. What I liked about both those programs were that they featured many rock acts that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise had either show not existed. After some time, both DKRC and Midnight Special began to feature more R&B/funk acts but it was Soul Train and Soul Alive that held the trophy for featuring R&B/SouL/Funk and disco acts regularly. It was actually Soul Train that made me want to become a guitarist.
Fast forwarding to today, it’s evident that YouTube killed the MTV/live music show era. The 24/7 format is obviously convenient but many things have changed along the way, including the charm that inhabited that same era. It was definitely a fine time of musical and cultural development across the board.
Oceans of rhythm,