||This article needs additional citations for verification. (May 2012)|
Geoff Downes (left) and Trevor Horn (right)
|Origin||London, United Kingdom|
|Genres||New wave, synthpop, progressive rock|
|Years active||1977–1981, various reunion performances from 1998|
|Labels||Island, Carrere, ZTT Records|
|Associated acts||Yes, Asia, Producers|
|Past members||Geoff Downes
The Buggles were a British New Wave duo consisting of Trevor Horn (vocals, bass guitar, guitar) and Geoff Downes (keyboards). They are best known for their 1979 debut single "Video Killed the Radio Star" that was No. 1 on the singles charts of sixteen countries. Its music video was the first to be shown on MTV in the U.S. at 12:01 on 1 August 1981. It was the lead single of the Buggles' first album, The Age of Plastic, whose title song became the group's second hit single, reaching No. 16 in the UK.
Shortly after Downes' move to the band Asia and the failure of their second album, Adventures in Modern Recording, the group came to an end in 1981. However, Downes and Horn have been performing Buggles' songs together since 1998.
Horn and Downes first met in 1976, at auditions for Tina Charles' backing band, and worked with her producer, Biddu, whose backing tracks had an influence on their early work. After this stint they briefly went their separate ways, Horn playing bass guitar in the house band at Hammersmith Odeon for a while, where he met Bruce Woolley. During this period Horn yearned to become a record producer, but was frustrated by not being able to find ideal songs or artists to work with. As a result he reunited with Geoff Downes, and the trio of Horn, Downes and Woolley began writing their own songs to record themselves as a studio band.
The Buggles' sound was characterised by a deliberately synthetic quality in keeping with the technological subject matter of their songs. Two different stories are claimed for the origin of the band's name. Horn said he chose "The Buggles" because "It was the most disgusting name I could think of at that time", while Downes claims that it arose out of a joke and was actually a pun on "The Beatles":
It was originally called The Bugs. The Bugs were studio insects—imaginary creatures who lived in recording studios creating havoc. Then somebody said as a joke that The Bugs would never be as big as The Beatles. So we changed it to The Buggles.
A demo of the first song which they recorded, "Video Killed the Radio Star", was sent to Island Records in the summer of 1979, who signed them immediately. This demo featured vocals by Tina Charles, who also helped fund the project. Although the song was chiefly a Woolley composition, he left shortly before its release to form a new band, The Camera Club, who would release their own version of the song. Released in September 1979, "Video" was the 444th number one in the UK charts, spending one week at the top, as well as reaching number one on the singles charts of fifteen other countries
The video, directed by Russell Mulcahy, was to be the first video ever aired on MTV two years later, at midnight on 1 August 1981. Award-winning film composer Hans Zimmer makes a brief appearance in the video.
At the time of "Video"'s original release, the duo didn't have an album's worth of material to record, and so they wrote most of the other tracks for their 1980 debut album, The Age of Plastic, while travelling around Europe promoting their first song. Three subsequent singles were released from the album: "(Living in) The Plastic Age", "Clean, Clean", and "Elstree", which also charted in the UK. Debi Doss and Linda Jardim (now Linda Allen), the female voices on "Video Killed the Radio Star", contributed their vocals to other songs on the album.
Later in 1980, Horn and Downes began work on a second album, working in a studio next door to progressive rock band Yes, who had recently lost vocalist Jon Anderson and keyboardist Rick Wakeman. Both members of The Buggles, and Horn in particular, had been long-standing fans of Yes. The Buggles offered a song to Yes, We Can Fly from Here, but at the suggestion of Brian Lane, manager of both bands, Yes' bassist Chris Squire invited them to actually replace Anderson and Wakeman as members of Yes.
Horn and Downes accepted the offer, and joined Squire, Steve Howe, and Alan White to record the Drama album (1980, UK No. 2, U.S. No. 18). A track called "Into the Lens" was released in its full eight-and-a-half-minute form, on a limited-edition one-sided 12-inch single. Essentially it was an unfinished Buggles song originally entitled "I Am a Camera", re-worked and completed by Yes - the original would later appear on the completed Buggles album, Adventures in Modern Recording in 1981. Another incomplete Buggles song, "We Can Fly From Here", did not appear on Drama, but was performed on the Drama tour, and can be heard on Yes' The Word Is Live CD set (2005), along with another unreleased Yes track from that era entitled "Go Through This". Although made for Adventures in Modern Recording, "We Can Fly From Here" would not be released until said album's 2010 re-release by ZTT Records, on which the original Buggles version can be heard in two parts. A year later in 2011, the song would play a crucial and titular role in Yes' Fly From Here album, which would also mark the second time that both Horn and Downes would work with the band.
Overall, the "absorption" of The Buggles by Yes was well received by fans both on record (the UK chart position for Drama is testament to that), and on stage. Trevor Horn was the first to admit that he did not have Jon Anderson's vocal range or style, and many fans missed this, but most were still keen to give the new incarnation Yes a chance. The critics and some fans, however, were far less forgiving, especially in the United Kingdom. Yes officially disbanded, although temporarily, in early 1981, shortly after the Drama tour came to an end.
After Yes broke up, Downes and Horn resumed work on a second Buggles album, the aforementioned Adventures in Modern Recording. As originally intended, I Am a Camera was brought to completion as a Buggles song under its original title. However, Downes left the group during the recording of the album to help found Asia with former Yes bandmate Steve Howe, citing musical differences, and Horn completed the album with several new songwriting partners and musicians. Adventures in Modern Recording was released in late 1981, and the five singles released from it (I Am a Camera, Adventures in Modern Recording, On TV, Lenny and Beatnik) failed to live up to the legacy of the first album and "Video Killed the Radio Star". It was at this point that Horn officially brought the Buggles to an end.
After leaving The Buggles, Downes joined his former Yes bandmate Steve Howe in forming the aforementioned supergroup Asia, together with John Wetton (ex-King Crimson), and Carl Palmer (ex-Emerson, Lake & Palmer), which made its name with the 1982 hit, Heat of the Moment. Downes remains a member of Asia today, being the only member to have stayed with the group since its beginning. In parallel with Asia, he also worked on other projects, including several solo albums and production of acts such as GTR. He has also recently rejoined Yes as their keyboardist, working with Horn on the Fly From Here album and tour.
Horn embarked on a very successful career as a record producer, achieving success with bands like ABC, Dollar, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Art of Noise, and even the albums 90125 and Big Generator from a re-formed Yes, with Jon Anderson back on vocals. In 1985, Horn won the Best Producer BRIT Award. More than twenty years on, he is still active, producing with Seal, Tina Turner, Paul McCartney, Tom Jones, Cher, Simple Minds, Belle and Sebastian, t.A.T.u., Charlotte Church, Captain, Pet Shop Boys and Robbie Williams among his many credits. He is currently working with his new band, fittingly named "Producers", who released an album, Made in Basing Street, in 2012.
Being largely a studio creation, The Buggles never toured. There were some Top of the Pops playback appearances, and later some performances for promotional purposes in support of the second album, but the first live outing by the original duo came in a low-key appearance on 3 December 1998, at which they only played "Video Killed the Radio Star".
In 2004, The Buggles reunited (including Debi Doss, Linda Allen and Bruce Wooley) at Wembley Arena to perform "Video Killed the Radio Star" and "The Plastic Age" in front of Prince Charles, Prince of Wales as part of a Prince's Trust charity concert celebrating Horn's career as a producer. Due to the success of the performance, Horn stated that he'd considered "getting the band back together".
In 2009 Horn produced the album Reality Killed The Video Star for British singer Robbie Williams. The album title pays homage to the trademark Buggles song, and Horn performed the song with Williams (Horn on bass, Williams on vocals) at the BBC Electric Proms on 20 October 2009.
The Buggles reunited again to play their first full-length live concert on 28 September 2010. The event, billed as "The Lost Gig", took place at "Ladbroke Grove's Supperclub", Notting Hill, London, and was a fund raiser with all earnings going to the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability. Except "Video Killed the Radio Star" and "The Plastic Age" which the band had previously played together, "The Lost Gig" saw the first live performances of all songs from The Age of Plastic, and included Bruce Woolley performing vocals with Horn on "Clean, Clean", the only song that The Buggles wrote fully as a trio. Guest performers also included former 10cc guitarist (and Horn's bandmate from Producers), Lol Creme for a version of "Rubber Bullets", followed by "I'm Not in Love" sung by Chris Braide (who was also involved with Producers), as well as tributes to Horn's career as a record producer, including a version of Grace Jones' "Slave to the Rhythm" with vocals by Alison Moyet. The concert also included guest appearances by Gary Barlow singing "Hard to Handle" as well as Richard O'Brien. "Johnny On The Monorail" was played as "Johnny On The Monorail (A Very Different Version)", a reprise of the original with a faster tempo released as a B-side to "Elstree", which can be found on the 2000 re-release of The Age of Plastic. The concert finished off with an encore of "Video Killed the Radio Star" featuring backing vocals by a member of the audience that won an auction. The opening act of the night were Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark.
Following 2010 discussions with Chris Squire, Horn produced the 2011 Yes album Fly From Here, the bulk of whose forty-seven-minute duration comprises unused or incomplete Buggles material from the early 1980s (particularly "We Can Fly from Here"), reminiscent of the use of the Buggles' I am a Camera for "Into the Lens" on Drama during their first stint in 1980. He thus insisted that Downes play keyboards on the album (replacing Oliver Wakeman, son of Rick Wakeman) and Horn himself played and sang backing vocals on the album. The album's group photograph prominently features Horn standing centre, signifying that to all intents he was considered the 6th band member for the recording. The Fly From Here tour did not feature Horn.
In October 2011, a reunited Buggles performed at the British Music Experience at the O2 Bubble, London. They were to be joined once again by Horn's Producers bandmates Steve Lipson and Lol Creme to take part in a Q&A session, and Alison Moyet appeared again as a guest vocalist. The band performed a number of their own songs, including the first live rendition of "I am a Camera", making it the first song from Adventures in Modern Recording to be performed live by the band itself. The Buggles also performed a version of David Bowie's 1969 hit, Space Oddity, as well as a tongue-in-cheek cover of Check It Out, a 2010 song by Nicki Minaj and will.i.am which heavily sampled Video Killed the Radio Star, involving Horn rapping will.i.am's sections. Kirsten Joy, Holly Petrie and Kate Westall took on the roles of providing female vocals, and would go on to join the Producers, the gigs of which heavily borrowed from this Buggles concert.
Studio albums 
|Year||Title||Peak chart positions|
|1980||The Age of Plastic||27||83
|1981||Adventures in Modern Recording||—||—||—||50||161|
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart.|
|Year||Title||Peak chart positions||Sales and Certificates||Album|
|1979||"Video Killed the Radio Star"||1||1||1||1||2||1||1||16||2||1||40||6||1||The Age of Plastic|
|1980||"Living in the Plastic Age"||16||—||—||5||29||—||—||29||—||—||—||—||—|
|1981||"I Am a Camera"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||46||—||—||—||—||—||Adventures in Modern Recording|
|"Adventures in Modern Recording"||—||—||—||—||—||—||27||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|1982||"On TV"||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||CAN: Gold (5,000 units^)|
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart.|
|^shipments figures based on certification alone|
Music videos 
- "Video Killed the Radio Star"
- "Living in the Plastic Age"
- "I Am a Camera"
- "Adventures in Modern Recording"
- "On T.V."
- "ZTT Records | Buggles - Adventures in Modern Recording". ztt.com. Retrieved 2012-04-03.
- "Biography". Official Geoff Downes Website. Geoff Downes. 3 July 2005. Retrieved 2008-12-01.(see para 8)
- "Geoff on Sirius Satellite Radio". Official Geoff Downes Website. Geoff Downes. 31 July 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-01.
- (CD insert). Adventures in Modern Recording. The Buggles. SALVOCD036.
- Hanson, Amy. "Tina Charles". VH1. Retrieved 21 June 2011.
- Warner, Timothy (2003). Pop music: technology and creativity. Ashgate Publishing. p. 155. ISBN 0-7546-3132-X. Retrieved 21 June 2011.
- Welch, Chris (2003). Close to the Edge: The Story of Yes (3rd ed.). Omnibus Press. p. 188. ISBN 978-0-7119-9509-3. Retrieved 31 March 2010.
- "Bruce Woolley & The Camera Club - Video Killed The Radio Star". YouTube. 2011-06-07. Retrieved 2012-04-03.
- "DebiDoss". Retrieved 2009-09-11.
- MTV LAUNCH FIRST DAY SATURDAY 12:01 am AUGUST 1st , 1981 1st hour Part 1
- [Welch C (2008), "Close to the Edge: The Story of Yes", Omnibus Press]
- "Asia - Video Killed the Radio Star". YouTube. 2009-07-27. Retrieved 2012-04-03.
- "The Producers - Video Killed The Radio Star - High Wycombe Uni - 2012". YouTube. 2012-03-08. Retrieved 2012-04-03.
- Henry Potts: The Buggles, Mean Fiddler, 3 Dec 98, ZTT Showcase. Retrieved 21 March 2010.
- A concert for The Prince’s Trust. trevorhorn.com. 16 July 2004. Retrieved 21 March 2010.
- BBC Electric Proms Setlist Retrieved October 2009
- "Buggles All Around". Mojo (205): 15. December 2010.
- Petridis, Alexis (29 September 2010). "Buggles: The Lost Gig". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 November 2010.
- Roach, Martin (ed.) (2009). The Virgin Book of British Hit Albums (1st ed.). London: Virgin Books. p. 63. ISBN 978-0-7535-1700-0. Retrieved 15 March 2010.
- "RPM Top Albums - March 22, 1980". Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 3 March 2010.
- "VG-Lista - Norwegian Album Charts: Buggles". norwegiancharts.com. Retrieved 3 March 2010.
- "Swedish Top 60 Album Charts: Buggles". swedishcharts.com. Retrieved 3 March 2010.
- "Buggles: Billboard Albums". Allmusic. Retrieved 3 March 2010.
- Roach, Martin (ed.) (2008). The Virgin Book of British Hit Singles (1st ed.). London: Virgin Books. p. 74. ISBN 978-0-7535-1537-2.
- "Austrian Single Charts: Buggles" (in German). austriancharts.at. Retrieved 3 March 2010.
- "Swiss Single Top 75 Charts: Buggles" (in German). hitparade.ch. Retrieved 3 March 2010.
- Unsourced chart positions carried over from the 4 March 2010 version of the article. Should be replaced by a reliable source.
- "Chartverfolgung/Buggles, The/Single" (in German). musicline.de. Retrieved 3 March 2010.
- "Irish Singles Charts". irishcharts.ie. Retrieved 3 March 2010.
- "Dutch Single Top 100 Charts: Buggles" (in Dutch). dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 3 March 2010.
- "New Zealand Top 40 Single Charts: Buggles". charts.org.nz. Retrieved 3 March 2010.
- "Swedish Top 60 Single Charts: Buggles". swedishcharts.com. Retrieved 3 March 2010.
- "Buggles: Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Retrieved 3 March 2010.
- "SA Charts 1969 - 1989: Acts B". www.rock.co.za – The South African Rock Library. Retrieved 3 March 2010.
- "Les Singles de Platine :" (in French). Infodisc.fr. Retrieved 10 April 2013.
- "British single certifications – Buggles – Video Killed the Radio Star". British Phonographic Industry. Enter Video Killed the Radio Star in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Click Go. Accessed from 10 April 2013.
- ON T.V.. musiccanada.com. Accessed from April 10, 2013.
- The BUGGLES - On TV Music Video on Youtube. Accessed from 29 April 2013.
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