Today, August 1st, Facebook was kind to remind me that today marks the anniversary of MTVs debut in 1981.
I loved MTV in the 80s. It was my after-school friend and my main window to the world outside my tiny pocket of existence just south of Seattle. Unfortunately, in the beginning, the cable plan that my family had did not include MTV. It didn't bother me then. I had no idea what it was. In fact, when my peers talked about MTV, it had to be explained to me what it was: Music videos. Popular music accompanied by artistic visuals.
It sounded stupid to me. When I watched TV, I wanted a story with dialogue. When I wanted to hear music, I had the radio and a record player. If I wanted music with physical movement I went to the roller rink. Sounds simple enough. Why make things more complicated?
I saw some music videos played on other channels and I just didn't get it... at first.
Come the weekends, my brothers would be glued to the show Nite Tracks, which showed all the cool videos we were missing by not having MTV. Being that my brothers were older than me and, therefore, had control over the TV knob (remember those?) I could either find something else to do, or watch videos with them. What was I to do but watch those silly videos?
Pretty soon, I was begging alongside my brothers to my parents to get a new cable plan that included MTV. It was either late 1984 or early 1985 that we got our wish, not because our parents thought that a channel that played that racket at all hours was a good thing, but they needed to upgrade the cable plan and this just happened to include the golden channel!
So there it was in all its 24 hour a day glory! And not just videos, but guest appearances and interviews by all my favorite musicians!
Now for the good part...
August 1st, 1985, MTV is having a celebration! Happy 4th birthday, MTV, and they're having a party!!!
I was watching this, having a wonderful time, while waiting for my own celebration in the evening. You see, The Power Station, a music project that included Duran Duran's John Taylor and Andy Taylor, was coming to the Seattle Arena that night and I was going! Yes, I was going to see John for real!!!
While I was waiting, the only thing that kept me grounded was watching this MTV party. Duran Duran's Simon LeBon was there! And they asked him where John and Andy were, because they apparently weren't there at the party.
OOOOOHHHHH! I Knew! I Knew!
I just about lost my 12 year old mind when Simon mentioned that they were touring with Power Station.
YES! They were here! They were in Seattle and I was going to see them for real!
And so the time came: My very first concert!
Without parents too! My brother and his girlfriend chaperoned me, but since there was no assigned seating, I lost them in no time. I got a shirt and pins and made my way to the arena floor.
The adults sat up in the bleachers. On the floor in front of the stage, all the young concert-goers were sitting on the floor, patiently waiting for things to start. I sat myself as close to the stage as I was able to without crowing anyone else and waited with them. I was a good 25 feet away from the stage.
Suddenly, there was a stir in the crowd and everyone looked back towards the bleachers behind us. John Taylor was walking among the bleachers! A large gaggle of girls got up and ran towards him. Only it wasn't him. He had his hair and style of clothes, but the jawline was wrong, I knew it wasn't him. I thought about saying something to the girls who were getting up and leaving, but the John Taylor likeness seemed to be enjoying the attention... at least that was my reasoning for staying quiet. I got up and sat ten feet closer to the stage.
Then the lights went down and there was an amazing shrieking from all around me. I screamed too, and I was a pretty loud screamer if I say so myself, but I simply couldn't hear my own vocals for the shrieking arond me was so loud. And then... AND THEN...
The supporting act, OMD, took to the stage!!!
What was this?
Where was Power Station?
I looked around. There were others around me who wore the same Power Station shirt that I did so I was in the right place. Though most people around me seemed to be into the show, I saw a few who looked as confused as I was. Luckily, though, I managed to catch somebody close to me explaining to someone else that Power Station would be coming on after this band.
Ok, then! I could appreciate this OMD, just as long as I get to see my John Taylor sometime this night!
And they were good too. I made a mental note to remember this band and maybe get their record someday.
Though many of us were not familiar with OMD, we crushed forward towards the stage. I was determined to stand my ground 15 feet away from the stage until the main attraction came on!
Until I got sick. Between the heat and the bodies crushing on me from every direction, my stomach started saying some unpleasant things that I didn't need to hear with my ears to understand. I started to push myself away... but I was pressed in place pretty good. I pushed some more but people only pushed back. I started getting mad and tried pulling at the people behind me, but they only got mad and slapped my hands away. My sight got hazy. I was going to faint. Suddenly, my biggest fear was passing out and being trampled to death unnoticed while Power Station came and performed to a crowd that was standing on my dead body.
"I'M GONNA THROW UP!!!"
The people around me heard that and pushed me back from the spot to a new bunch of people who resented this sudden invader of their area.
I repeated my message and I was pushed back again. This happened a few times until a reached an area that was not nearly as condensed so I was able to get out of the crowd and find a solitary spot next to the bleachers and sit on the delightfully cold floor.
After I got myself together (and managed not to throw up) I put myself back into the crowd, but not near as close as I was before. That was okay. This way, I could save my energy and ready myself for the physical and psychological chaos that comes with being in that mob for the main event.
When OMD finished and left the stage and the house lights came on. The crowd near the stage loosened up as many people left to get merchandise, leaving many gaps. What was I to do but fill those gaps?
Oh, I was sneaky! Without appearing as if I'm stealing space ahead of me, I inched forward, leaving no open space ahead of me alone. However, when I looked around, there were dozens of 12 year old girls doing exactly the same thing! I locked eyes with some of them, and then we moved forward, racing, shoving, showing mercy to nothing in front of us. How dare they try to get ahead of me!
Too soon, we were all locked into place, in our own tight wedges, as close to the stage as possible. There was no moving forward for any of us. My little nook was about 15 feet away from the stage. I was happy with that. Some of the others made it in front of me, but there was nothing I could do about it. Let them enjoy things from there. At least most of the others were behind me!
Then the lights went down again.
Did I say there was no moving forward for us from where we were? I was wrong. Everything moved forward another five feet! Any space that existed beforehand was crushed into a solid form. Air? Who needs air? I was ten feet away from the stage!!!
And there they were! There HE was! It was as if all my glossy magazine fold-outs came to life and John Taylor was there, ten feet from me! Yes, he was gorgeous!
And he played well. The whole band played well. I may have lost my voice by the second song but I still screamed and screamed.
At one point, my earring caught on somebody's shirt. Luckily, the owner of this shirt noticed my problem and stood as still as he could while I unhooked myself. All the while I'm thinking, "Please don't look, John! Please don't look, John!" Because it would be just my kind of luck that the one time he ever sees me is when I'm unlatching my stupid earlobe from some guy's shirt. But, Luck was kind to me at that moment because when I looked up, John was on another part of the stage.
But then it happened.
At one point, he was directly in front of me, at the edge of the stage, ten feet away from me. The lights are illuminating the audience for a moment and he looks out at us. At me. I blew him a kiss.
He smiled his John Taylor smile, the smile that only John Taylor can make!
And he did it at me! That made my night. It made everything worth it. You have no idea what that meant to me at such a tender age. It gave me so much joy to hold onto to pull me through some very dark times ahead of me. The concert as a whole was an amazing thing that could never be duplicated in my life, and I thank the other band members, Andy Taylor, Tony Thompson, and Michael Des Barres, for their participation in that outstanding band and amazing night!
August 1st. That date commemorates a lot of things for a lot of people. MTV has its own thing and I most certainly have mine. Even now, I remember that concert every single year.
May that memory never fade!