Video Time-Traveler: Spend an Hour With MTV Guest VJ Dan Aykroyd in May 1983

title screen from late May 1983, when Dan Aykroyd was a guest VJ on MTV for an hour. Aykroyd's headshot is on the right side and he is wearing glasses and a bowtie, in character from his movie
Internet Archive

Summer 1983 was a busy time for Dan Aykroyd on the big and small screens.

He starred in two feature film comedies — Doctor Detroit, which premiered May 6, 1983, and Trading Places, costarring Eddie Murphy, which was released June 8, 1983. He would also feature in the memorable opening and closing “Wanna see something really scary?” segments of Twilight Zone: The Movie, which hit theaters on June 24, 1983.

In late May, a little ahead of Memorial Day 1983 — about three weeks after Doctor Detroit hit theaters and about two before Trading Places did — Aykroyd appeared as a guest VJ on MTV.

You can enjoy that MTV hour from May 1983 courtesy of a video posted at the invaluable Internet Archive, and seen below (note that the video may take several seconds to fully load).

This video is especially enjoyable for those who bemoan the fact that MTV veered away from its original mission of providing “Music Television” quite a while ago, offering a nice little capsule of a time early in the network’s history when it largely adhered to that original tagline (Aykroyd even says the “Music Television” part following most of his references to MTV).

Along with introducing various music videos new and old in this guest VJ appearance, Aykroyd also promotes the last few days of MTV’s contest tied in with Doctor Detroit (the weakest of the movies in which he was starring at that time).

The big prize in that contest was the stretch limo featured in the movie. Frankly, that seems like a somewhat impractical prize that I likely wouldn’t have wanted, despite the fact that it was, at least as Aykroyd hyped it, “quite the automobile.” It was a 1977 full-stretch Lincoln Continental limousine (“the last of the big babies”) that featured a TV, a car phone and a radio inside. “It will make a great tank, too,” he quipped. The deadline for contest entry was at midnight on May 27, 1983, so I’m afraid that even someone interested in owning a 1977 limo is four decades too late.

Also tying in with Aykroyd’s movie, and airing a little later in the hour, is the music video for Devo‘s “Theme From Doctor Detroit,” which is generally more entertaining than the film itself.

Dan Aykroyd as MTV guest VJ in May 1983. He is seated, holding his glasses in both hands as he discusses MTV's contest related to his film "Doctor Detroit." The grand prize is the stretch limo seen in the movie, which is depicted on a TV screen behind Aykroyd and to his right.

Guest VJ Dan Aykroyd hypes the stretch limo from his movie Doctor Detroit that viewers could enter for a chance to win in MTV’s 1983 contest. (Internet Archive)

The video above begins with a snippet from the very end of the music video for Hall & Oates‘ “Maneater.” Then, after Aykroyd’s intro, the hour kicks off with the video for Men at Work‘s “Overkill.”

Other notable videos featured during the hour include those for Falco’s “Der Komissar,” Duran Duran‘s “Rio,” Michael Jackson‘s “Billie Jean,” Tina Turner‘s cover of “Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World Is Today),” Stray Cats‘ “Stray Cat Strut” and Prince‘s “1999.”

Besides those at-the-time current or recent hits, Aykroyd at one point introduces a video for “Love Me Do” by The Beatles (“Remember them?” he asks jokingly), a song released about 20 years earlier and already considered an “oldie” by 1983. (Aykroyd was about five weeks away from his 31st birthday when he made this appearance, and might have been seen as a bit of an “oldie” himself by the standards of an average MTV viewer.)

Also featured are a couple of fun music videos led by Aykroyd’s Saturday Night Live friends and colleagues: Steve Martin‘s hilarious 1978 performance of “King Tut” on SNL, and a performance by The Blues Brothers, with Aykroyd and John Belushi as Elwood and Jake Blues.

Interspersed among the music and Aykroyd’s interludes are a variety of delightful commercials from the era, mostly ones for the hour’s main sponsors: the Centipede video game for the Atari 2600, Calvin Klein jeans, Jordache fragrances for men and women, Dodge/Plymouth automobiles and Miller High Life. (I haven’t watched MTV in a very long time, so I don’t know if the network still features beer commercials, but the Miller ads here seemed odd to me for some reason.)

You’ll also get to enjoy some great old-school MTV station callouts for itself, including the famed “Moon Man” one, interspersed throughout the hour.

a shot from the MTV "Moon Man" network ID spot from May 1983. It depicts an astronaut on the moon on the right side of the photo, looking toward the left side, on which a flag is planted on the moon. The flag features MTV's logo.

(Internet Archive)