By MELISSA KELLEY Warsaw Community Public Library Cataloging Supervisor
Do you have moments where you long for those glory days of the 80’s? Well then, VJ the unplugged adventures of MTV’s first wave is the book for you!
If you were a teenager in the early 80s (like me), and were fortunate enough to have cable, MTV was in all likelihood a momentous part of your life. Embraced by the young and bashed by the critics, MTV made its debut at 12:01 a.m. on Aug. 1, 1981, and it forever changed the way music marketed itself.
In the beginning there were the original five VJ’s: Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter, J.J. Jackson and Martha Quinn. Most of us from that era have our favorite (mine was Mark, loved the hair). MTV introduced me to tons of music I would have never heard otherwise – U2, The Cure, etc. I can remember setting the timer on our VCR to record the debut of new videos that were unveiled well after midnight on school nights. This was way back when they actually played videos 24/7.
But VJ isn’t really about the network MTV, instead it is a collection of recollections and interviews by the four surviving original VJs – JJ Jackson passed away in 2004. The book encompasses their lives from the beginning before their hiring, to their departures from the network, to a few being rehired, to all the way to present day. I have to give props to all of them for their frankness in discussing their immersion into the world of sex drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. They seem very much like how I imagined them. The only downfall to this book was the absence of JJ Jackson’s voice, who was sorely missed.
An item of interest that I did not know was the VJ’s were never actually watching the videos they introduced! All their VJ segments were recorded separately.
I have to say after finishing the book I was saddened by the fact that these five amazing people, who were such a big part of my youth, just sort of faded into oblivion, as did the format of MTV. Even now I still mourn the loss of the 24/7 video play. And yet, even after 30 plus years, these five are still widely remembered by those of us who can remember the moment when video did actually kill the radio star.