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This Story Of David Bowie Blasting MTV For Not Playing Black Artists Is Going Viral

He said the network's alleged racism was "extraordinarily blatant."

Originally posted on
Updated on

After the news of the death of legendary musician David Bowie, people have begun sharing their memories of the rock star's frequent fights against injustice.

One such story is of a time in 1982 when Bowie blasted MTV for not playing black artists' videos, as recollected in the book Inside MTV.

In an interview with Penthouse, Bowie described MTV's alleged racism as "extraordinarily blatant."

Bowie said he first heard about the channel excluding black artists from black musician Nile Rodgers, whom he had hired to work with him to produce his album Let's Dance.

Rodgers told Bowie that "black music" was frequently excluded from "white radio and white television," and noted MTV's refusal to play "Super Freak" by Rick James because it "didn't define him as rock."

"I'm just tired of the bullshit," James once told Rolling Stone. "I have sold over 10 million records in a four-year period ... and I can't get on the channel."

But it wasn't until he was interviewed on air by MTV VJ Mark Goodman in 1982 that Bowie directly challenged the network on its exclusion of artists of color.

"We have to play music we think an entire country is going to like, and certainly we're a rock and roll station," Goodman argued after Bowie asked about the lack of black artists.

Bowie replied, "Is it not possible it should be a conviction of the station and of the radio stations to be fair... to make the media more integrated?"

There are many reasons to love David Bowie. Here's one. 1982: challenging MTV on their refusal to play black music:

Goodman later said the interaction with the musical idol made him feel "like an idiot."

He recalled their meeting for the 2013 book VJ: The Unplugged Adventures of MTV's First Wave:

I said, "I have some tough questions for you, David — I hope you're ready."

And he said, "Ha, great, because at the end I'd like to ask you some punishing questions as well."

Watch the interview here:

In our 1983 David Bowie interview, he criticizes MTV for not playing enough music videos by black artists. https://t.co/G2ePJFcaRN

H/T @loumoore12

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