I can’t play an instrument.
And though I can write, I have never written about music.
However, I love music. Especially ‘80s music.
1988. Black jean jacket and high school gym shorts. I am sorry.
So I am following up the oral history of superhero entertainment of my formative years with an oral history of music videos of my formative years…which happens to overlap with the formative years of music videos themselves.
In other words, “Where Are They Now?: 1980s Video Vixens Edition.”
This blog shares stories behind the stories I write; with this series, it’s more broadly about stories behind stories that have inspired me to write stories. I can’t write with music on, but music injects me with a certain passion—a rhythm, even—I call upon, in silence, when writing.
(And running. I am still bummed that Nike does not still hold its Run Hit Wonder race, which I did in New York in 2004. A Flock of Seagulls’s “I Ran [So Far Away]” was a highlight...naturally.)
But no one-hit wonders here.
These are the videos, by year, whose famous faces/crushes for countless teens I interviewed:
- Huey Lewis and the News, “Heart and Soul” and “I Want a New Drug” (1984) – Signy Coleman
- Journey, “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” – Margaret Olmsted Menendez (+ BONUS: Steve Perry, “Oh Sherrie”  – Sherrie Swafford)
- ZZ Top, “Legs” and others – Wendy Frazier, Kymberly Herrin, Danièle Arnaud
- Don Henley, “The Boys of Summer” – Audie Lenkov (Audie England)
- Huey Lewis and the News, “If This Is It” – Janet Cross, Sandra Wilder
- a-ha, “Take On Me” – Bunty Bailey
- Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, “Don’t Come Around Here No More” – Wish Cohen (Louise “Wish” Foley)
- Bryan Adams, “Summer of ‘69” and others – Lysette Anthony
- Robert Palmer, “Addicted to Love” – Julie Pankhurst, Patty Elias (Patty Kelly), Kathy Davies, Mak Gilchrist, Julia Bolino
- The Outfield, “Your Love” – JoAnn Willette
- Lou Gramm, “Midnight Blue” – Traci Lind
- Michael Jackson, “Smooth Criminal” – Kelley Parker
- Tom Petty, “Free Fallin’” – Devon Kidd (Devon Jenkin)
7/6/14 addendum: Round 2 (28 more videos, 30 more women)!
Most of these former starlets were pretty tough to find and have never been interviewed about their videos. (The VH1 series Where Are They Now? featured two episodes on this subject. As far as I can tell, none in this feature appeared on “Video Vixens 1” [season 2, episode 8, 7/28/00], and only two here, Signy Coleman and Bunty Bailey, appeared on “Video Vixens II” [season 2, episode 24, 11/28/00]. I made those exceptions because their videos are two personal favorites.)
Similarly, I did not include video stars who are now household names (Courteney Cox, Christie Brinkley, Tawny Kitaen, Helena Christensen) or who have been covered elsewhere (Ola Ray, Jeana Ellen Keough [Jeana Tomasino], Lillian Muller, Betsy Lynn George).
Some of the thirteen videos profiled here were regulars on big-brand “best music videos” lists, back when they used to make “best music videos” lists:
“Take On Me” (almost always in the top 50)
- #8 VH1 Top 100 Music Videos of All Time (2001)
- #9 Rolling Stone Top 100 Music Videos (1993)
- #14 MTV 100 Greatest Music Videos of All Time (1999)
- #35 MTV 500 Greatest Videos of All Time (1997)
- All-TIME Best Music Videos (2011; 10 per decade, unranked within each decade)
“Addicted to Love” (almost always in the top 50)
- #8 MTV (1999)
- #30 VH1
- #43 MTV (1997)
“Don’t Come Around Here No More” (sometimes in the top 50)
- #14 Rolling Stone
- #43 VH1
- #79 MTV (1997)
- #85 MTV (1999)
“The Boys of Summer”
- #23 Rolling Stone
- #53 VH1
- #67 MTV (1999)
- #94 MTV (1997)
- #22 MTV (1997)
- #96 VH1
- #56 MTV (1997)
“Summer of ‘69”
- #161 MTV (1997)
“I Want a New Drug”
- #166 MTV (1997)
Conversely, “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” has been called (unfairly, I say) one of the worst videos ever made.
Curiously, Patty Elias’s ex-husband wrote the MTV theme, which makes them an MTV power (ex-)couple like no other:
Warning as you proceed into the series (and therefore the ‘80s): more mustaches than you remember.
Three of the most pressing questions of the ‘80s music landscape will be answered in this series:
- Who is Josie (from “Your Love”)?
- Who is Annie (from “Smooth Criminal”)?
- What happened to Sherrie Swafford (from “Oh Sherrie”)?
Three of my (many) favorite comments (to find out who said them, stay tuned):
- “I got rock-star-by-proxy status.”
- “We were dangerous ornaments.”
- “Me in a music video in a negligee was not a topic of conversation at the dinner table.”
Three fun facts you get right now:
- Two “Huey girls” (Janet Cross and Signy Coleman) dated Don Henley.
- Signy knew both Janet and JoAnn Willette.
- Janet is the great-great granddaughter and Margaret Olmsted Menendez’s father said she is the great-great niece of Central Park designer Frederick Law Olmsted. What are the chances that FLO would be related to not one but two video vixens?
- The video for “Jessie’s Girl” by Rick Springfield barely has a girl in it. [NOTE: I originally wrote that it does not have a girl in it, but after a reader corrected me in the comments, I made the tweak here.]
Three I found who responded to my interview request although they normally don’t:
- Patty Elias
- Traci Lind
- the first person on the next list…
Three I found who chose not to participate:
- Steve Perry, “Oh Sherrie” (1984) – Sherrie Swafford (she respectfully declined a full interview but did give me permission to share a brief update)
- The Cars, “You Might Think” (1984) – Susan Gallagher
- The Moody Blues, “Your Wildest Dreams” (1986) – Janet Spencer-Turner
Susan Gallagher; “You Might Think”
Janet Spencer-Turner; “Your Wildest Dreams”
Three I wanted to find but haven’t…yet:
- Night Ranger, “Sister Christian” (1984) – Annie Hubbard; 8/25/13 addendum: found her!
- Cinderella, “Shake Me” (1986) – name unknown
- Richard Marx, “Should’ve Known Better” (1987) – name unknown
Annie Hubbard; “Sister Christian”
name unknown (but not Amanda Peet!); “Shake Me”
name unknown; “Should’ve Known Better”
To quote the Moody Blues, “I know you’re out there somewhere.”
Three matters of housekeeping:
- I conducted the interviews between January and July 2013.
- Stills from videos are copyright their respective labels. I got permission to post all previously unpublished images; if you want to repost, please do the same by asking me first. You know the music business does not tolerate piracy.
- I am crowdsourcing to add to this series. See next...
THREE REQUESTS (and please lend a hand no matter when you’re reading this):
- TWEET to help me find the three I didn’t; this can work!; simply copy and paste any or all of the following pleas (character count is Twitter-ready, but once pasted, you may need to delete extra spaces) or craft your own; if everyone reading this takes a moment to tweet even one, I am confident we will find some if not all of them:
Real research question: if you know the Annie Hubbard who was in 1984 Night Ranger video “Sister Christian,” pls contact @MarcTNobleman; 8/25/13 addendum: found her!
Real research question: if you know the woman—even just her name—in 1986 Cinderella video “Shake Me,” pls contact @MarcTNobleman
Real research question: if you know woman—even just her name—in ‘87 Richard Marx video “Should’ve Known Better,” pls contact @MarcTNobleman
- SHOW LOVE: if you want Susan and/or Janet to reconsider, say so in comments below; perhaps an outpouring of interest will persuade them
- VOTE: tell me in comments below who you would like me to next find and interview?
First up: Huey Lewis and the News, “Heart and Soul” (1983) and “I Want a New Drug” (1984).