Brushes With Greatness (The Original MTV VJ’s)
“I want my….. M..T..V!”
Back in the early 80’s, I spent a lot of time watching MTV when it was the ultimate national resource for music. My mom indicated that by me spending so much time in front of the TV watching so many of these unique music videos, it would probably end up screwing me up later in life. She was probably right, but I’m very fond and proud to have spent so much time using this platform to introduce me to popular music and the stories behind these bands. Remember, back then there was no internet or technology, and this stuff mattered a lot more. And those VJ’s were my babysitters when my parents or real babysitters weren’t around. They were Alan Hunter, Martha Quinn, Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, and JJ Jackson (RIP!). They were like gods to me introducing me to musicians that have been on the soundtrack of my life: Michael Jackson, Duran Duran, Bruce Springsteen, A Flock Of Seagulls, Men At Work, Lionel Richie, Def Leppard, and on and on and on. We all know what MTV has become after the music industry died. Yet, back then it was simply a different time, a magical time that I truly miss.
A book written by the four living VJ’s came out in 2013, and as a historian and fanatic of not just music, but the music business, I was excited to purchase and read this. And when I found out they would be doing only a few book signings in my area, there was absolutely no way I was going to miss the opportunity to thank them in person. I just had started my new job, but was sure to bolt a bit early on the day of the signing. It would be taking place at Barnes & Noble on Rt. 17 in I believe Paramus, and I was crossing my fingers it wouldn’t be the typical book signing and that they would allow photos and interaction with the guests.
I got there early while waiting for friends. The line wasn’t as bad as I expected, but I figured I would just wait for them to show up. I walked around the store and got a little star-struck when the four of them walked past me headed to their area. Martha and Alan marked out for my MTV T-Shirt, and I did my best Wayne and Garth impersonation saying I wasn’t worthy to be in the presence of these people who had such a huge influence on me. Even I got starstruck!
My friends got there, and we figured we would try and get at the end of the line as there was some indication that it was a book signing only. But as we got closer, it looked like others were ignoring the publicist from the book company and taking photos with the VJ’s. And the VJ’s didn’t seem to mind perhaps since the turnout wasn’t huge and this was really a celebration of their legacy in which only those who were around in those days could appreciate. The first one we met was Nina Blackwood, I had to thank her again for everything she has done. She remembered me from our quick encounter before they hit the signing area, and was really sweet leading to a nice photo.
Next up was the legendary Alan Hunter, (HUGE influence!). He also was very kind and appreciated all of the thanks I was giving him. He also was curious where I got the MTV shirt. I joked and told him JC Penny for $9.99 and hoping he had a cut of the sales. We got an over the table but quality photo with him.
Then there was Martha Quinn. Not only was she probably my first TV crush, she also got bonus points for being Bobby Brady’s wife on the short-lived Bradys series in the early 90’s. She was a bit quiet, but sweet and appreciated the kudos. Another great photo.
Last up was Mark Goodman. He wasn’t very talkative, but was happy to take the photo. Since we were perhaps the last people to get the book signed and photos, we decided to stick around and chat some more. Mark Goodman announced for those that stuck around, they would be doing group shots. I was more than happy to take advantage of this opportunity (which btw is one of my personal favorite photos in my collection).
Since I was caught in the moment and getting more time to chat with them about the history of the channel. I figured why not also get my T-shirt signed? All of them were more than happy to do it, and Nina lovingly joked that it might time to cut us off. (Trivia for those 80’s music fans, the song Missing You by John Waite was actually written about his past relationship with Nina Blackwood)
I walked out of the Barnes And Noble so happy that I made the trip and had the opportunity to meet these people who were a huge part of my childhood. For those that didn’t grow up during the 80’ or a fan of history of television, they aren’t important. For me and my fellow MTV generation, these four had a huuuuggggeee impact that only those of us who were alive during that magical era can appreciate.
I WANT MY MTV!!!!!!! BAAACCCCKKKKK!!!