By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Sep 02, 2021 at 3:01 PM

MTV turned 40 last month and for some of us, the heavy-rotation videos from those early years will forever represent the quintessential music videos of all time.

Today, MTV is far from the video mill it was a few decades ago, but it’s also a tired cliche to complain about the lack of actual music on the modern day Music Television station. So let’s not. Instead, let’s acknowledge the makers of these vintage vids who are still out there, making music on and off screen, and are going to be at Summerfest. A place where there is never a shortage of music.

So for the love of flipping on the TV after school to see Nina Blackwood intro a video by some guy with fluffy “party in the back” hair, here are some bands coming to the Big Gig that helped form those early, glory days of MTV.

1. REO Speedwagon
Thursday, Sept. 2; 8 p.m.
BMO Harris Pavilion  

“Take It on the Run” by REO’s Speedwagon was the ninth video ever played on MTV. Chances are beyond good that the band will rock this tune out for old time’s sake when they play the B-Mo.

2. Styx
Saturday, Sept. 4; 8 p.m.
BMO Harris Pavilion 

“Rockin’ The Paradise” by Styx was the 10th video ever aired on MTV and a version of the original group storms the Big Gig this year.

3. Joan Jett
Thursday, Sept. 9; 9:30 p.m.
BMO Harris Pavilion

“I Love Rock ’N’Roll” by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts is as synonymous with early MTV as a mullet is to John Stamos. It debuted in 1982, the second year of MTV, and the Queen of Rock ’N’ Roll undoubtedly still has this one on her set list.

4. Berlin
Friday, Sept. 3; 9:45 p.m.
Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard 

During the second and third years of MTV, Berlin’s “The Metro” was impossible to miss. See if they still got it when they play Summerfest.

5. Men Without Hats
Friday, Sept. 3; 8 p.m.
Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard 

“The Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats was another second-year video that was in heavy rotation. Sadly, they probably won’t have the maypole that’s prevalent in the video when the band performs this new wave classic.

6. Annabella from Bow Wow Wow
Friday, Sept. 3; 6 p.m.
Briggs & Stratton Big Backyard

The beachy “I Want Candy” video by Bow Wow Wow featuring Annabella Lewin was a sexy, sweet and seminal MTV video for the fledgling station. Annabella is on tour solo and brings her act – and most likely this song – to the Big Gig.

7. Night Ranger
Friday, Sept. 3; 6:30 p.m.
Uline Oasis Stage 

Although some of us may argue “Sister Christian” is a more memorable MTV video from the days of yore, Night Ranger’s “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me” was actually their first video to appear on the channel.

8. Jefferson Starship
Friday, Sept. 10; 4 p.m.
BMO Harris Pavilion at 4 p.m.

Jefferson Starship had two videos in rotation during MTV’s inaugural year: “Find Your Way Back” and “Stranger.” A Grace Slick-less version of the group will knock out the faves.

9. John Waite
Saturday, Sept. 4; 4 p.m.
BMO Harris Pavilion Stage

John Waite brought the “Missing You” video to the small screen in 1984. Waite, hopefully long over the subject of this song that sunk him into such a deep denial, will take the BMO stage.

10. Vince Neil of Motley Crue
Saturday, Sept. 4; 9:45 p.m.
Uline Warehouse Stage 

Motley Crue dropped their first video, “Live Wire” just months after MTV first aired. Vince Neil, the legendary lead vocalist for the Crue, plays the Uline stage.

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.