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Meet The Buggles [PHOTOS, VIDEOS]

The Age Of Plastic, 1979. (Craig Allen photo)

The Buggles were a British New Wave group…who’s “One-Hit-Wonder” introduced the world to the 80’s phenomenon called MTV!

Trevor Horn handled vocals, guitar and bass guitar. Geoff Downes could be found on keyboards.

Horn started his career producing jingles, and music for punk rock groups. Downes was keyboardist for various London-based rock groups after graduating from Leeds College of Music, in 1975. The future Buggle-mates met in London, and the band officially formed in 1977.

Downes claims that the name “Buggles” came out of a joke, and was actually a pun on the Beatles! They started out with the name “The Bugs”. The concept: Bugs are insects…imaginary creatures who live in recording studios, creating chaos. Then, somebody joked that “The Bugs” would never be as big as the Beatles. Quickly, the band became The Buggles!

Horn and Downes, along with Bruce Woolley, immediately set upon writing rough drafts of numerous songs, and even made a demo for one called “Video Killed The Radio Star.”

They spent 1978 in vain…trying to secure a recording deal, using the “Video Star” demo.

All was not lost…as at the time, Horn was in a relationship with Jill Sinclair, who was running a new company, Sam East Studios.  On the day that the Buggles were set to sign with Sam East, Island Records signed them to a bigger deal, including recording and publishing contracts. Later, in a BBC interview, Downes claimed that Island Records rejected The Buggles three times before signing them!

Buggles_plastic back
The Age Of Plastic, back cover art. (Craig Allen photo)

The Buggles recorded their debut studio album “The Age Of Plastic” in the first half of 1979.

The demo for “Video Killed the Radio Star” featured vocals by Tina Charles, who also helped fund the project. Although the song was mainly a Woolley composition, he left shortly before its release to form a new band called “The Camera Club.”

Released in September 1979, “Video Killed The Radio Star” was a #1 hit in several countries…but it stalled at #40 in the U.S in early 1980.

The song and video would go on to infamy at 12:01 am on August 1, 1981…as the first video ever aired on MTV!

Back to the band…later in 1980, Horn and Downes began work on a second album, in a studio next door to “Yes.” Vocalist Jon Anderson and keyboardist Ric Wakeman had just left that band. Both of The Buggles, especially Horn, were long-time fans of Yes.

As fate would have it, Brian Lane was manager of both bands…and the two “Buggles” were essentially absorbed into Yes, for recording of the “Drama” album.

Buggles-Yes Drama

After touring, Yes would disband (temporarily).

After Yes broke up, Downes and Horn resumed work on a second Buggles album: “Adventures In Modern Recording.”


But, drama was a part of the story here, as well! Citing musical differences, Downes left before recording started, and Horn completed the album with several new songwriting partners and musicians. The album was released in 1981. After it failed to live up to expectations, Horn officially ended The Buggles.

Where was Geoff Downes? With former Yes band mate Steve Howe, he had helped to form the band “Asia.”

Asia, 1982. (Craig Allen photo)

Downes remains a member of Asia today, being the only member to have stayed with the group since its beginning!

Horn embarked on a very successful career as a record producer, achieving success with 1980’s bands like “ABC,” “Frankie Goes To Hollywood” and “Art Of Noise.” Plus, the albums “90125,” and “Big Generator” with a re-formed “Yes” (with Jon Anderson back on vocals). Horn is working with his new band, appropriately named “Producers,” and put out an album last year.

Over the years, “The Buggles” have briefly reunited for concert appearances.



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