Though he’s been referred to the ‘King of Music Videos’ in addition to his title as the ‘King of Pop,’ there was a period in the early days of MTV when the network refused to play Michael Jackson music videos.
Before he changed the game of music videos with his cinematic “Thriller” short film, Jackson’s early music videos struggled to get airplay on MTV. The widely accepted rumors of why MTV refused to play any of his videos related to Jackson’s race, but original MTV VJ Nina Blackwood cleared up this misconception on air with the K-EARTH 101 Morning Show today.
Nina explained that “it’s a long story, but basically there was a little bit of negotiation” to get Michael Jackson videos played on the network, not because of his race, but because MTV’s format focused on album rock instead of pop.
“That was what we always had to defend. That was not the fact at all,” explained Nina. “It was exactly what you said – the genre of music. He was pop, we were rock. Once we started playing Michael Jackson it did start going more in a pop [direction].”
After MTV began to premiere Michael Jackson videos, it took the channel off like a rocket with revolutionary videos like “Billie Jean” and of course “Thriller.”
“That’s another thing I won’t forget…We were promo-ing the world premiere of ‘Thriller’ it was poignant TV to see that. It was huge,” said Nina.
Though Nina unfortunately never had the pleasure of meeting Michael Jackson in person (he wasn’t one to do many interviews, even with MTV), Susanna Hoffs of The Bangles recalled her meeting with the King of Pop.
“I met him once at a MusiCares event in 90 or 91 maybe, and he was so nice, so sweet,” she said. “He told me that he loved the song ‘Eternal Flame,’ which we had done…it was a huge compliment coming from him.”
Listen to more memories from Nina and Susanna on Michael Jackson in the clip below.