What Can It Mean When a Video Awards Bash Draws the Superstars of Rock? MTV's Coming of Age

updated 10/01/1984 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/01/1984 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Belinda Carlisle, lead singer of the Go-Go's, steps out of a limo in front of New York's Radio City Music Hall. She hugs a fuzzy pink stole around her shoulders, latches on to her tuxedoed escort and tiptoes on spike heels toward the front door. As she passes, frantic fans lean and scream over police barriers. Flashes mix with hot spotlights, striking fire from Belinda's dangly rhinestone earrings.

For anyone who remembers peace, love and Woodstock, this is not a picture of true rock 'n' roll. But welcome to the Reagan '80s, when everyone goes Hollywood—even the stars parading at the Sept. 14 awards ceremony sponsored by MTV: Music Television. By showcasing video versions of pop chart hits, the 24-hour cable station has transformed the rockers into home-screen stars. Rod Stewart, Grace Slick, Huey Lewis and practically every singer who wasn't on tour came to pay homage to MTV's brightest stars. Mick Jagger and David Bowie couldn't attend, but sent video greetings. Nearly 6,000 others watched the 2½ hour taping that aired live on MTV and will appear nationwide this month on 82 broadcast stations.

"The atmosphere was the loosest of any award show I've ever attended," said Herbie Hancock, who walked off with five of the 15 1984 awards for the video of his scratch music hit, Rockit. Dan Aykroyd co-hosted with Bette Midler, while Cyndi Lauper, who won the Best Female Video award for her hit Girls Just Want to Have Fun, dispensed with the boring ceremonial details by reading them in gibberish that she claimed was ancient Babylonian.

At show's end Diana Ross, Cher, members of the Police and Duran Duran followed some 3,000 others to the official MTV party at Tavern on the Green in Central Park. A select group of VIPs later pressed on to Dan Aykroyd's private bash at the jam-packed and jumping Hard Rock Cafe. At 5:15 a.m. the cafe's mezzanine overflowed with astrockracy. Rod Stewart chatted with Alice Cooper and Rolling Stone Ron Wood near a back wall. To his left sat Van Halen's David Lee Roth; to the right, Billy Idol. "This party was rock 'n' roll heaven," said the cafe's co-owner, Isaac Tigrett. Their MTV promotional duties behind them, the rockers laughed, drank and munched as if it were midday. Just then, a timely message came from nearby loudspeakers in David Bowie's wavery voice: "Golden years," he sang. "Nothing's gonna touch you in these golden years."

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