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Thursday 17 October 2019

Fab Vinnie's 'MT-USA' – When Music Never Looked Better!

THE LATE VINCENT HANLEY, RTE D.J.
THE LATE VINCENT HANLEY, RTE D.J.

Joe O'Shea

When MTV hit big in the US in the early 1980s, one Irishman saw the potential in the new generation of slick, cinematic music promos.

And while media types on this side of the Atlantic took several years to catch on, Vincent Hanley, a former RTÉ radio DJ who had relocated to New York, set about creating his own version for Irish TV.

Hanley's creation, MT-USA, took the basic MTV formula and shrunk it down to a three-hour, weekly TV show with 'Fab Vinnie' doing the links, often from windy New York street corners.

MT-USA went out on Sunday afternoons on RTÉ Two from early 1984 and immediately became required viewing for a generation of Irish teenagers who could only see Madonna or Michael Jackson on the weekly, half-hour Top of the Pops.

Operating on a micro-budget, Hanley, who was originally from Clonmel, still managed to get interviews with US stars and the odd Irish rock act that managed to make it to New York.

In December 1984, Vincent gave Ireland some sense of how big U2 were about to become when he interviewed New Yorkers queuing to see the four Dubliners at Radio City Music Hall on 6th Avenue.

MT-USA only ran for three seasons until 1987. Vincent Hanley died from a HIV-related illness in St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin in April, 1987, aged just 33.

Even today, many Irish 40-somethings will hear Pat Benatar's 'Love Is A Battlefield', ZZ Top's 'Legs' (or an even more obscure track like Dennis DeYoung's 'Desert Moon') and immediately think, "Fab Vinnie".

Irish Independent

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