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The History of Rock Video

Updated on May 6, 2011

Rock or music videos to promote a song or story behind the song can be said to have started with Elvis in his first film, Love Me Tender, which was also his huge hit. It really depends on what your definition of what is a rock or music video. One could easily splice of the segment where Elvis sings Love Me Tender (1956) and use it as a promo for the song, which is all a rock video is. However, it was never done that way until....The Beatles. Most would agree that their 1964 classic movie, A Hard Day's night, using hand held cameras, was the first rock video. Especially in the iconic, Can't Buy Me Love, segment with the boys running wild and goofing off while filmed from the air. Oh, there are others, like, This Boy, a song was awesome harmony and Ringo walking along the river feeling rejected and alone. But again, short films to promote a song were not done until....The Beatles did it for the rocker, Paperback Writer and Rain in 1965. It was specifically planned as a rock film to promote the song within three minutes.

Then, two shows were aimed at teenagers, Hullabaloo and Shindig. The first, was rare because it was broadcasted in color, the latter, in B\W. Anyone in rock worth their salt played on them, even the Stones and Beatles.The idea of short films to promote a song continued to get attention, usually, The Beatles or Stones do them.

The name rock video was really the reason why there was MTV in 1981 and for years later. In their early years, that is all they played. Anyone who produced a short film or video promoting their song was played on MTV as in one big endless loop, hosted by some nice guy or girl. The first video they aired was by the Buggles (?) entitled, Video Killed the Radio Star. The first controversial video was by Devo and their song, Whip it, where a woman's clothes were ripped off from a lashing. Of course, Michael Jackson's, Thriller, from 1983, is regarded as the most costly, $500,000 for 14  min of song and dance. The next infamous video came in 1986, with Robert Palmer's, Addicted to Love. It wasn't him that was getting eyes, it was the statue-like, yet mezmerising women with guitars behind him! They would set fashion trends for many years-so hot! Up until 1990, Madonna's videos really were nothing artistic, then in 1990, she had David Fincher (Social Network) direct her Vogue video, which remains visually beautiful.

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