The chronicles of MTV

It was a moment that made a lot of us feel old, but MTV hit its 30th anniversary this summer on August 1, 1981. 

By 1983, the channel transformed the music business forever, and things would never be the same, for better and worse.

Many of us feel MTV has been long past its glory days for some time now, but two new books are covering the channel’s history in depth, and should remind us why MTV was great way back when. 

I Want My MTV will be hitting bookstores and Kindle on October 27 via Dutton Books, and it’s written by former Spin editor Craig Marks, and Rob Tannenbaum, a former contributor for Playboy and Rolling Stone.


I Want My MTV is an oral history covering 1981 to 1992, meaning there’s little to no narrative from the writers, and the entire story of MTV is told through over 400 people Marks and Tannebaum interviewed. 

Where I Want My MTV is the big, pimpy book that’s coming out through the big, pimpy publisher, Greg Prato put out his own, self-published MTV book as well, MTV Ruled the World, which also deals with the early days of the channel.


Prato is the author of seven books including Grunge is Dead, an oral history of Seattle, Touched By Magic, which about the late, seriously under-rated guitarist Tommy Bolin, and The Eric Carr Story, which is about the late, seriously under-rated drummer from Kiss. 

For Prato’s MTV book, he interviewed over 70 people including Weird Al Yankovic, who calls the book “fun, accurate and entertaining,” Hall and Oates, Stewart Copeland from The Police, Gerald Casale from Devo, original VJs Alan Hunter and Nina Blackwood, and more.


Both books chronicle MTV as I, and many others, would like to remember it: a lot of fun when it first came on the scene, a joy to watch every day before the empty narcissism of reality TV and the corporate greed of the music business strangled all the fun out of it.