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Pop Rewind: The Buggles “Video Killed the Radio Star”

On August 1, 1981 at 12:01 AM, a new era in music was born. With more bands beginning to make videos to accompany their songs, a new network calling itself MTV (Music Television) decided the world was ready for a 24-hour music video station.  Appropriately, the first song they aired was “Video Killed the Radio Star” by new-wave act The Buggles.

By the time this bit of history occurred, “Video Killed the Radio Star” had already been out for two years as part of The Buggles debut album The Age of Plastic, and had already seen chart success in England and other countries; but the song was pretty much unknown to American audiences until MTV began airing it on what was only a handful of cable systems at the time.  When record stores started selling out of Buggles records despite having no radio coverage, it was apparent that MTV was going to be a game changer in the music market.

Ironically, especially considering what their hit song was about, The Buggles wound up being a one-hit wonder.  Even with their MTV coverage, “Video Killed the Radio Star” barely managed to eke into the Top-40 in the U.S., and the band didn’t last long enough to duplicate its success.  The duo forming the group (Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes) briefly joined progressive rock band Yes in 1980; when Yes broke up the following year, the pair returned to record a second Buggles album, Adventures in Modern Recording. Before the album could be finished, Downes left to start the band Asia with Steve Howe, leaving Horn to finish the recording with other musicians. When none of the singles took off, Horn abandoned the effort.

Even so, The Buggles were around long enough to grab an important piece of music history, and a song many of us will remember all our lives. Enjoy!


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About the Author

on MUSIC IS MY OXYGEN WEEKLY.

Tim Ferrar's interest in pop and rock started as a child, listening to Top-40 radio for hours on end while playing air guitar in his bedroom. Eventually air guitar led to electric guitar, and Tim began playing in bands and writing his own songs. With an admitted weakness for "a great hook or a great guitar riff," Tim's musical tastes are broad and varied, ranging from Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga on the pop side to Bon Jovi and Foo Fighters on the rock side- making him the ideal guy to cover our Rock and Pop categories. By day, Tim is a mild-mannered accountant in Chicago. By night, he rocks out on electric guitar in a cover band in various clubs around town- much to the surprise of some of his clients.

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