The MTV Basement Tapes was an early “battle of the bands” competition hosted by Martha Quinn and featured music videos from unknown and/or unsigned artists. The show, which ran from 1983 to 1986, allowed for a chance for the winners to be placed on MTV rotation through popular vote. This show from 1985 featured Frank Zappa as a co-host.
I’m Martha Quinn and you’re watching the “MTV Basement Tapes”, the show that makes you the talent scout. Now….we show you six unsigned bands from around the country you watch the videos and then you vote for your favorite by calling a special 900 number that we’ll show you later. Tonight tonight’s winner gets a complete line of Casio instruments to outfit the whole band including the Casio CZ101 synthesizer and the CK200 keyboard and of course they come back …to compete against our other five finalists for the grand prize.
Here’s another full MTV Basement Tapes show from 1986.