Atlantans of a certain age are sure to remember The Now Explosion – a music video program that aired more than a decade before the launch of MTV. Created in Atlanta by broadcaster Bob Whitney, the music videos incorporated Top 40 music with locals who were brought into a studio space to dance or by budding directors and cinematographers who wanted to film a story to go with the song. The singers themselves also filmed early performance videos that were aired during the program.

Creators, performers and fans of The Now Explosion will hold a 45th anniversary reunion on Friday night, March 13, at 7:30 p.m. at Manuel’s Tavern in Poncey-Highland. The public is invited to come by, reminisce and watch some of the videos that are now being preserved by the University of Georgia.

The Now Explosion began its first regular broadcasts on what is now TBS and Channel 36 and aired 28 hours of music videos each weekend. The show proved so popular that it was picked up in other cites including Dallas, Memphis, Kansas City, Philadelphia and Fort Lauderdale, which also started producing their own music videos for the program. The show was broadcast around the country and seen in New York, Boston and San Francisco.

The dance videos were often filmed late at night when studio space was available. According to longtime Atlanta resident Dan Morrison, who is helping to promote the Manuel’s reunion, the directors would go to Midtown (which was the hub of the city’s counterculture scene in the ’60s and ’70s) and find kids and hippies to perform in the videos.

The special effects added to the videos might seem cheesy and dated now, but at the time they were considered state of the art. The Now Explosion videos offer a time capsule not only of the music of the era, but Atlanta, too. Watch some of the clips below and visit The Now Explosion website at thenowexplosion.net to see even more.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.