The Buggles – “Video Killed the Radio Star”


Who are the Buggles?

The Buggles are British new wave duo, best known for their hit single “Video Killed The Radio Star” which MTV US featured on its very first broadcast in 1981. The single was also a hit, just barely breaking into the US Top 40 and topping the charts back at home. The Buggles would issue three more singles that became hits in the UK as well. The duo also joined the group Yes to participate in the latter’s Drama album. The Buggles’ sophomore effort Adventures In Modern Recording didn’t chart, and the band soon broke up. One of the members, Geoff Downes, left to join another group Asia. While the other half of the Buggles, Trevor Horn, became a record producer. Since 1998 though, the duo has reunited to perform their old hits occasionally.

The formation of the Buggles

The Buggles are a British new wave and synth pop duo, formed in Wimbledon in South West London, England. They are composed of lead vocalist, guitarist and bass guitarist Trevor Horn (born on July 15, 1949) and keyboardist, backing vocalist and synths man Geoff Downes (born on August 25, 1952).

The two met in 1976 while they were both auditioning for the backing band of pop/disco singer Tina Charles. They eventually got to collaborate with Charles’ producer Biddu, whose work provided direct influence on the would-be Buggles.

The name “Buggles” began as a joke as well as was a pun on the Beatles (whose own name derived from “beetles”). According to Downes, the joke was that the Bugs were imaginary insects who were “creating havoc” inside the recording studio. Then someone said to them that they’d never be as big as the Beatles, so they began calling themselves The Buggles.

“Video Killed the Radio Star” – The Buggles’ signature hit

The Buggles added another musician Bruce Woolley, whom Horn had met before. Together, the three made demos for their own self-penned songs for their first album (that would be titled The Age of Plastic). One of those songs included “Video Killed the Radio Star.” Tina Charles chipped in into the project through her financial generosity, as well as lending her (featured) vocals on “Video Killed the Radio Star.”

“Video Killed the Radio Star”‘s writing credits were shared by all three Buggles members, but in truth it was mostly written by Woolley. However, in the middle of the production Woolley left to form his own band The Camera Club (who would also record their own version of “Video Killed the Radio Star.”)

“Video Killed the Radio Star” was released in September 1979 as a single. Eventually, “Video Killed the Radio Star” rose to the top of the charts in several countries. The single, which was included on the Buggles’ debut album The Age of Plastic, also went to #1 on the UK charts in late 1979.

The song’s music video as MTV’s first-ever video

When America got wind of the “Video Killed the Radio Star,” it was the time when music television cable channel MTV beamed its maiden broadcast in the midnight of August 1, 1981. The first-ever music video that MTV broadcast was, as you guessed it, the video of the prophetically-titled global hit song. The classic music video of “Video Killed the Radio Star” was directed by Australian film director Russell Mulcahy.

“Video Killed the Radio Star” barely reached the US Billboard’s Top 40 in 1979; it was the Buggles’ lone American hit. Other tracks on The Age of Plastic album – “The Plastic Age” (#16 UK), “Clean Clean” (#38 UK) and “Elstree” (#55 UK) were big hits in their homeland. However, Downes and Horn’s interests gradually veered more toward production work.

The Buggles as Yes members

In 1980, Downes and Horn became part of the famous progressive rock group Yes, with Horn on vocals and Downes on keyboards. They replaced former Yes members, keyboardist Rick Wakeman and lead singer Jon Anderson. Making up the part of Yes’ new lineup, the band released their tenth studio album Drama in 1980.Drama did well commercially both in the US and the UK, although many longtime Yes fans were angry over the group’s replacement of its vocalist.

Individual careers of the members and the Buggles reunion

He then went on to become a record producer. In 1983 he founded ZTT Records with NME staff writer Paul Morley. ZTT eventually enjoyed considerable success thanks to its roster of artists that included Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Propaganda, and Art of Noise.

Aside from his band Asia, Downes has also worked as a producer for such as acts as Mike Oldfied, Thompson Twins, and GTR.

In 1998, Downes and Horn reunited for their first-ever Buggles live outing. Since then they’ve been making occasional reunion performances while attending to their own individual career commitments. Of course, in every gig they’d go to, they’d always play their signature song “Video Killed the Radio Star.”

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