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It kicked off with class.
On January 1, 1985, VH1 officially launched with Marvin Gaye's performance of the national anthem from the 1983 NBA All-Star Game. At this performance in February '83, Gaye was wrestling with addiction and other demons, and by April '84, he'd be dead — fatally shot by his father. Built on little more than voice and drum machine, his "Star-Spangled Banner" touches on all of his personal turmoil, as well as the troubled state of the nation. It's spare, strangely funky, and insanely moving — a fine intro to the channel that would bring us Celebreality.
For some reason, Don Imus was a VJ.
In 1985, Imus was a popular radio personality, so putting him on camera and letting him ramble grumpily about music and movies must have seemed like a reasonable idea at the time. According to Internet lore, he once referred to soul seductress Sade as a "grape," on account of the shape of her head, though evidence of this is hard to come by. (It was so much easier to be a turd in the pre-YouTube days.)
It introduced us to Rosie.
Before she was all buddy-buddy with Madonna or adversarial with Barbara Walters, Rosie O’Donnell was a young comedian tapped to introduce videos and host Stand-up Spotlight, a then-novel showcase for fellow comics. Rosie was a natural, and in 1988, if you were on the fence about shelling out for Elton John tickets, she'd seal the deal.
Elvira's Halloween show predicted a billion listicles.
In 1991, schlock-horror goddess Elvira hosted a countdown of the 21 greatest Halloween videos of all time. Sound familiar? That's because every pop-culture website has done its own version of that scary-vid list. How many thought to put INXS' "Devil Inside" at No. 2, though? Props to the Mistress of the Dark.