The reason you want to pick up VJ: The Unplugged Adventures of MTV’s First Wave is to have a first-hand account from those original MTV VJs who actually lived and partied like rock stars during MTVs glorious first years. Yes, at one time MTV not only mattered musically but it was seen as a cultural revolution. Music was entering the video era and it was Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, Martha Quinn, JJ Jackson and Alan Hunter who introduce America to this new medium.
Before game shows and reality TV programs took over MTV, virtually making music videos non-existent on the channel nowadays, MTV was the coolest place for artists to be heard and seen. Sometimes for better or for good but no one can doubt the influence MTV had over the music industry and in pop culture throughout the 80’s. VJ: The Unplugged Adventures of MTV’s First Wave is an oral retrospective by the remaining original VJs (JJ Jackson died of a heart attack in 2004). They describe their time at MTV as a blessing then and a bit of curse now, but for the first half of the 80’s, the VJs go on to describe how working at MTV changed their lives. They relive moments such as partying all night at various New York City clubs, traveling first class with the very rock stars they grew up idolizing, and being the toast of the town everywhere they went for a live report.
Whether it was in a small town introducing a band and getting a huge reception by the audience, or working behind the scenes of Live Aid—one of the biggest concert events in rock history—the VJs were treated like royalty everywhere they went. But despite the glamour and minor celebrity status that came with being a VJ, they also candidly discuss the backstage bickering, jealousy, envy, the long days they put in, the havoc it would bring into their personal lives, and even some never before told stories of the artists they encountered who acted as though they were bigger than MTV.
It’s a fantastic read that once you begin you will most likely read it from cover to cover in one sitting. It’s a great, easy to read book that if you’re a fan of music, a student of music history especially during one of its most exciting eras—the music video revolution—VJ: The Unplugged Adventures of MTV’s First Wave is one to check out. No other book covers this era more engagingly, and with the VJs that were there in the beginning, it’s the only book on the subject that matters.