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Trevor Horn wrote this after reading a science fiction story about an opera singer in a world without sound (she was rendered obsolete). Says Horn: "Before I started Buggles I was a sort of loser record producer, I spent 4 years producing records for various people without ever making any money out of it or having any success at all. Mainly I just produced unsuccessful records because I couldn't seem to lay my hands on a good song. Eventually I got so fed up doing things that weren't successful I decided that if I couldn't find a good artist and a good song then I'd write it myself and become the artist, so I wrote this song called 'Video Killed The Radio Star' with Bruce Wooley. I know the name's awful, but at the time it was the era of the great Punk thing. I'd got fed up of producing people who were generally idiots but called themselves all sorts of clever names like The Unwanted, The Unwashed, The Unheard... when it came to choosing our name I thought I'd pick the most disgusting name possible. In retrospect I have frequently regretted calling myself Buggles, but in those days I never really thought much about packaging or selling myself, all that really concerned me was the record."
Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes of the Buggles replaced Rick Wakeman and Jon Anderson in Yes in 1980. The Buggles did record a second album in 1981. While recording the album Downes was invited to join the band Asia; Horn decided to finish the album with musicians from both Yes and The Camera Club.
This was the first video to air on MTV. The network launched August 1, 1981, and this provided the first evidence that MTV was going to make it. The song was a big hit in England in 1979, but pretty much unknown in America. When MTV went on the air, it was on only a few cable systems, but record stores in those areas started selling lots of Buggles records. Since radio stations weren't playing this and almost no one in the US had heard of the Buggles, it was clear that MTV was selling records and was an early indication of the network's influence.
Russell Mulcahy directed the video, which had more production value than most others MTV had to choose from. At the time, if artists did make videos, they were usually just scenes of the band performing a song. Mulcahy used a lot of theatrics in his work, and went on to make videos for Duran Duran - including "Wild Boys
" and "Is There Something I Should Know?
" - before directing the 1986 film Highlander
Trevor Horn's wife agreed with his assessment that he was "dumb-looking" in the video. After his stint with Yes, she persuaded him to leave performing and go full-time as a producer.
Trevor Horn said of this song in the book I Want My MTV: "It came from this idea that technology was on the verge of changing everything. Video recorders had just come along, which changed people's lives. We'd seem people starting to make videos as well, and we were excited by that. It felt like radio was the past and video was the future. The was a shift coming."
The female singers on the record were Linda Jardim (now Linda Allan) and Debi Doss. The Buggles asked Debi and Linda to perform in the video with other band members, keyboard player Hans Zimmer and drummer Warren Cann (from Ultravox). Debi was on tour with Hot Chocolate in 1979 when the song went to #1 and Errol Brown gave Debi a bottle of champagne and the day off to rush off to London to perform on Top Of The Pops
with the Buggles.
Linda Jardim explained: "The singer on Video Killed the Radio Star and on the album was me (on the album there was also input from Joy Yates and Debbie Doss). The females in the video were NOT models. One of the other girls was an Australian model who we all called Sydney Australia, but I was present."
On the record were Linda Jardim (now Linda Allan) and Debi Doss. The Buggles asked Debi and Linda to perform in the video with other band members, keyboard player Hans Zimmer and drummer Warren Cann (from Ultravox). Debi was on tour with Hot Chocolate in 1979 when the song went to #1 and Errol Brown gave Debi a bottle of champagne and the day off to rush off to London to perform on Top Of The Pops
with the Buggles. Linda Jardim also sang on a single for The Northampton Development Corporation that was released nationally by EMI, entitled "60 Miles by Road or Rail," in an attempt to generate publicity for the growing town. It was not a hit. (Quotes courtesy: discog.info
The video was shot in south London in a day. The girl who starred in the clip was a friend of director Russell Mulcahy who was trying to become an actress. For the scene where she is lowered into the test tube, about 30 takes were shot, and the wrong take was used - you can see the tube falling over, which wasn't supposed to happen.
Artists to cover this song include The Violent Femmes, Pixies, The Offspring, Radiohead, the Japanese Indie Rock band Rocket K, and The Presidents of the United States of America, whose cover was included on the soundtrack for The Wedding Singer. (thanks, RiOT - Palm Desert, CA)