Foreword

At the beginning of 1980 I was an ex-pat Brit living in Vancouver on Canada’s west coast. I had just graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in English, having paid my way through school as a disco DJ. Job prospects were bleak, and I still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. As for my English degree, it was practically worthless in the job market unless I wanted to be a teacher. There was a joke at the time that the initials BA did not stand for Bachelor of Arts, but for “Bugger All.” My parents had travelled from London, England for my graduation, and I fully expected my father to say that it was time I found myself a real career, but he noted that I “appeared to be doing quite well at music” and maybe I should stick with it. It was the first time my father had given me words of encouragement for my rock and roll lifestyle, and thank goodness he did. I followed my muse. At the start of the 1980s, disco was giving way to a new genre of music. I became a New Wave nightclub DJ and found myself at the forefront of a musical revolution. By 1981 I was managing one of Canada’s pioneering electronic bands, touring the country and opening for the likes of Duran Duran, Roxy Music, and Depeche Mode. Music was not the only revolutionary force happening in pop culture at that time—there was also the launch of a new medium—music television, first in the USA then later in Canada. It became one of the defining elements of the decade. MuchMusic, Canada’s 24-hour music television network, recruited me and I moved to Toronto to work for “the nation’s music station.” I found myself in front of the camera as host of Rockflash, the rock and roll news desk, and the alternative music show City Limits. I travelled the world interviewing artists, promoting music, and reporting on concerts. It was a time that many people wrote off as just a decadent decade of big hair and bad fashion. However, in recent years people have begun to appreciate the 1980s and just how important they were, not only for pop culture, but for the ways in which the world dramatically changed during that ten-year period. In 2009 I was asked to co-host and write The ’80s Radio Show for Orbyt Media in Toronto. During my first show on the air I flippantly commented that I was now being paid to remember the decade I was trying to forget. And I’m glad it worked out that way, because reconnecting with the music, the stars, and the politics of the 1980s gave me a chance to put the period in proper perspective. I realized it was a crossroads of history: politically, culturally, economically, and for me, personally. It was an especially golden period for music. It was also a battle for a generation’s attention, support, and money, and I was on the front lines…

Kim Clarke Champniss

Toronto 2012

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