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The Story Behind MTV's Moon Man Music

Classic power chords launch a new station 30 years ago.

Ten different station IDs were created for MTV, but it was the fuzzy progression of power chords used for the station launch that became its iconic signature. Guitarist Ray Foote was on the road in North Carolina with his band, Control Group, when he was booked for his first commercial session. A classmate from Bennington College, Jonathon Elias, was given the task to write several musical cues for the new Warner Brothers channel along with his partner at the time, John Peterson. Elias had always liked the way Foote played guitar, so he invited him to the New York City recording session at RPM studios on 12th Street in Greenwich Village. Foote remembers walking into the professional studio in awe of all the latest equipment and hip vibe. He brought along his Vulcan guitar with a Marshall head, earning $200 for the day (which lasted well into the night).

“Nobody had any idea how big it was going to be,” says Foote, reflecting on the day. “It was just a little gig.” The first time he saw the moon man footage was on television with everyone else. Foote is the co-founder of Big Foote Music + Sound in New York City, specializing in branded music for all media. The Vulcan guitar still hangs on the wall of his Union Square studios.

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