In 1983, David Bowie sharply called on MTV to feature more black artists

The progressive views of David Bowie
(Image credit: RALPH GATTI/AFP/Getty Images)

In a 1983 interview with Mark Goodman, an MTV video journalist, David Bowie didn't stick to promoting "Let's Dance." The singer, who died Sunday after battling cancer, turned the tables on the network.

"I'm just floored by the fact that there are so few black artists featured on [MTV]," Bowie said. When Goodman tried to rationalize the decision by saying MTV was "narrowcasting" to its audience, Bowie responded with a droll, "That's evident."

Here's their entire tense conversation about integrating entertainment on MTV:

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Decades later, in VJ: The Unplugged Adventures of MTV's First Wave, Goodman recounted the interview:

Bowie was hammering me, and I was trying to defend the network — but it was an awkward position.What irritated me was that I felt like a pawn. I had no say over what MTV played — I wasn't an executive. And Bowie knew what the situation was. He knew [MTV executive] John Sykes, and he knew a lot of the other principals. He was just using me to bring this issue into the forefront. I felt like an idiot, and I felt used, and I felt insignificant to David Bowie — which I probably was, anyway. [New York Daily News]

Aren't most of us?

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