Obviously in the United States, the music video was spectacularly thrust into prominence in the early 1980's (1981 IIRC) with the inaugural episode of Music Television (Now MTV), which originally featured nothing but music videos.

The original video for this was The Buggles, "Video Killed the Radio Star", however there had been other music videos for years before that. Tony Bennett claimed to have invented the music video in the mid 50's about the same time that Elvis Presley filmed the video for Jailhouse Rock.

Before and after this, there had also been television shows (such as BBC's wonderful "Old Grey Whistle Test" that featured mostly unknown bands) that were mostly live performances, but also had occasional clips of music. There were also short releases of film clips from musicals as stand alone items. (Madonna's Material Girl video was a pretty good copy of the title song from Monroe "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend").

What is the first occurrence of the "music video" in any form, and how did it grow into the ubiquitous mini film that we are familiar with now?

  • 1
    Doesn't the question itself sum up a lot of it?
    – Walt
    Aug 8, 2014 at 22:41
  • @Walt - to some extent, but I don't think that it touches on everything from beginning through evolution. I'm looking for more of how it made it from a "niche" thing to the point where a major network would be formed around it.
    – JohnP
    Aug 9, 2014 at 2:21
  • There is no way to answer this definitively. That said, in terms of pop music, Queen's video created for Bohemian Rhapsody on Top of the Pops is often cited as the first music video.
    – DA.
    Apr 21, 2015 at 17:00

1 Answer 1


Depending on your definition of what criteria is involved in making a music video...I would say: Carnival Night in Paris (1927).

Music videos have been around since film added sound. The first music videos were filmed in New York, and called Vitaphone shorts. Carnival Night in Paris was produced by Warner Bros. It was the first foray into this field.

Music and film grew side by side. The Beatles made films like A Hard Days Night, and Elvis movies played a large role. His movies featured songs with choreography, that propelled the plot of the movie. As far as the impact of MTV...well, bands like The Doors, that were focused on the art began making short films set to their songs in the 1960s. The Doors made a video for The Unknown Soldier in 1968. And of course shows like The Ed Sullivan show, The Smothers Brothers, heck even - Hee-Haw kept music and video tied together.

But one event that helped propel the idea of a Network to devote all their programming to music videos was when Michale Nesmith of the Monkees proved the mass-market appeal of the medium in 1981; when he used his inheritance from Liquid Paper to produce Elephant Parts. A video that incorporated music videos with sketch comedy (first ever winner of a video Grammy <-- paragraph 4). That was the kick that inspired MTV. The rest is history...

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