The Buggles forever will be the answer to a trivia question.
Q: What was the first music video played on MTV?
A: “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles.
But The Buggles meant so much more than that. And surprisingly they remain so given the new life of their first-ever USA tour, opening Seal on a big American production that includes a stop at The Anthem in DC on Wednesday, May 10.
All of this is by design. Producer extraordinaire Trevor Horn formed The Buggles with synthesist Geoff Downes. Horn also was a principal on ZTT Records, where he could let his creative chops fly producing acts like Art of Noise, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Propaganda, and others. Before forming ZTT, however, Trevor recruited Geoff and formed The Buggles. The duo released debut album The Age of Plastic, which includes “Video Killed the Radio Star,” in 1980 via Island Records. The Buggles followed it up with sophomore record Adventures in Modern Recording in 1981.
Watch the official music video for “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles on YouTube:
In 1982, Trevor produced The Dollar Album for pop duo Dollar. ABC frontman Martin Fry heard that album and recruited Trevor to produce The Lexicon of Love, one of the smash albums of the ’80s, also in 1982. In 1983, Trevor co-founded ZTT — or Zang Tumb Tumb — Records, and he went forward to imprint his synth sonics into the explosion of “new pop” records like Frankie’s debut Welcome to the Pleasuredome.
Along the way, Trevor and Geoff joined Yes, the prog rock supergroup that adopted a more ’80s commercial radio approach to their music over time. It wasn’t too long before the band hit the charts with 90125, their Horn-produced 11th studio album. (Geoff would stay with Yes, and indeed I went to see Yes before the passing of Chris Squire in a show at the Warner Theater in part to see Downes perform. He was an impressive keyboardist, performing from stage with his back to the audience so that we could see the incredible array of machines surrounding him as he moved from deck to deck.)
Fast forward a bit, and soul musician Seal signed to ZTT Records, which released his first two albums — Seal in 1991 and Seal II in 1994. Trevor produced both! On Seal’s 30th anniversary tour to celebrate both records, Seal recruited Trevor as musical director and Trevor reignited The Buggles to tour as opener.
The Buggles initially broke up in 1982. But over the years, Trevor and Geoff have reunited for one-off shows but not a full tour. And the two worked together on at least one other Yes album (2011’s Fly from Here). Trevor and Geoff appear to still be on very good terms, but Geoff is apparently absent from this big tour by The Buggles, which is frankly too bad.
However, I never dreamed I would see The Buggles and witness the magic of Mr. Trevor Horn performing those songs. And now here, he is with the might of all of the great new wave and synthpop albums he’s produced behind him. DC, don’t miss The Buggles!
The Buggles open Seal at The Anthem in DC on Wednesday, May 10.
Wednesday, May 10
Doors @ 6pm