Trevor Horn is one of pop music’s most successful record producers. Formerly the singer for electropop duo the Buggles (known for 1979’s “Video Killed the Radio Star,” the first video aired by MTV) and then Yes in the early Eighties, Horn has worked with Paul McCartney, Rod Stewart, Cher, Tina Turner, Faith Hill, LeAnn Rimes and t.A.T.u.
On Thursday night, artists Horn produced will pay tribute to him at a charity concert for the Prince’s Trust at London’s Wembley Arena. Entitled “Produced by Trevor Horn,” the show will feature Seal, Yes, the Pet Shop Boys, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Simple Minds, Belle and Sebastian, the Art of Noise, Lisa Stansfield and ABC — as well as a reunited Buggles, performing “Video” live for the first time (excluding Horn and keyboardist Geoff Downes’ informal run through the song at a London club in 1998).
When asked about the inspiration for the concert, Horn responds with a laugh, “Exactly the question I’m asking myself! It’s twenty-five years since ‘Video Killed the Radio Star,’ and I was seriously thinking of getting the Buggles together. Then someone from the Prince’s Trust suggested the idea of a multi-artist concert, and I said I’d do it — in a moment of madness.”
Horn, who rarely performs, has been rehearsing his vocals and bass in order to put over “Video” live. “It’s not what I’m used to,” says Horn, who promises to wear the iconic big Buggles glasses. “I’m always afraid of upstaging the artists. When you are a producer that is the last thing you want to do. But now since I’m getting on a bit, it’s probably okay to do something like this. A monumental task, but it should be fun.”
Horn is known for his uncanny ability to craft memorable hit songs, as was evident in the early Eighties with chart-topping singles “Relax” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood and “Owner of a Lonely Heart” by Yes. In the Nineties, Horn went on to have a successful collaboration with Seal on both “Crazy” and the Grammy-winning “Kiss From a Rose.”
With his emphasis on a sleek and meticulous sound, the producer admits that he’s more than a bit obsessive in the studio. “I’m a control freak . . . I’m mad!” he says unapologetically. “But I do it in the nicest way. I think records should be made in a good atmosphere.”
Despite the range of his hits, “Video Killed the Radio Star” still holds a special place in his heart. “If you are a doctor and went to medical college, there hanging on the wall is your diploma,” he says. “‘Video Killed the Radio Star’ is my diploma. That was my first big hit, and everything came from that.”