IN 1987 I WORKED FOR MTV IN NEW YORK CITY
A couple of months after I started up on DC-101 in 1982, I received a call from one of MTV's founders...Bob Pittman. I remember my friend Lee Masters (now one of Bob's partners in that enterprise) from Indianapolis radio (WIFE-FM) in the early 1970's (big supporter of me and our band) telling me about the advent of what became MTV in the early 80's. Bob asked me if I would have interest in joining up with the new array of "Video Jocks" starting up with and on the new channel. I thanked him. Told him I couldn't. I'd just started with DC-10...wrong to leave in the early on. He said to be sure to call when I got free. In 1987, resigning from DC-101...first call went to MTV. They had no permanent employment but, they had a few months in need of a Video Jock starting up to cover the time between the departure of Mark Goodman and the arrival of MTV Europe's Adam Curry. For my part, that was great timing because I had also just made arrangements to start working for Emmis Broad-casting in parallel to the MTV timing. So, my wife and babies lived in D.C. while I lived in NYC during the week, returning home on weekends for the family and to do gigs with the Smash Band.
It was a magnificent arrangement MTV paid for everything and provided a paycheck on top of it all. I did MTV Mornings intro and outros to the videos along with the "Smash" commentary and reflection on the culture of the era. Fan mail from all over the world.
My Producer/Programmer there was Steve Leeds. He was the "Lorne Michaels" of that operation. He was open to any take, twist or spin I wanted to put on the videos we were delivering. I had just left DC-101 because some "consultant" was brought in from Philly (though we were #1 in the market) trying to tell us how to entertain and deliver to the D.C. Rock & Roll community. When things got shut and shot down with having to play 16 in a row, it was time to go. As an Entertainer, to return to the formatic and freedom of what MTV was providing me was like the captive being set free. Let the fun begin in the land I loved...the kingdom of Rock & Roll and R&B!
I got to meet many Rock stars...from one of the era's big names in Terrance Trent Darby to a bigger name in Cher to the biggest young Rockers of the day, Guns 'n Roses. I ran around NYC in the MYV limo with Darby after his concert. I baby sat Cher's son (with Greg Allman) Elija Blue...letting the youngster beat me repeatedly at the Pinball machine so as to help maintain the youth's calm as he was away from Mom. But, the biggest thing that happened to and for me there was the interview with Guns 'n Roses as I was hosting "Headbangers Ball."
Axl Rose and the band were coming in to promote their album "Appetite For Destruction" That was the same day that was the last day for that particular stage set. After the interview it was all going to be dismantled and a new stage would take it's place. It came to me as I earlier prepared for the interview. Since the set was coming down and since the band had an "Appetite For Destruction," why not let them rip apart and tear down the stage Rock & Roll style like all the bands were known to do to their hotel rooms (for example). I presented the idea to Steve Leeds. He went and talked to someone then came back with a yes. This was going to be the best! Before the interview I informed the band of my idea. They were all in!! They applied their attitudes and we began. Here 'tis.
WATCH THE DESTRUCTION HERE.
It was spectacularly epic! So much so that people still talk about it some 30 years later. "Rolling Stone" Magazine included it in their issue titled "The Top 40 Greatest Moments In MTV History!"
Many more stories about "The Smash" on MTV. I'll tell 'em/yell 'em down the line.
I was blessed to be there.
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