From The Buggles to Yes to Asia, Geoff Downes has been responsible for some of the most iconic keyboard riffs in rock history. The musical legend discusses his decades-long career behind the electronic ivories.
Quick: Name an iconic keyboard riff of the 1980s. Chances are, Geoff Downes was the man behind it. From The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star” to Asia’s “Heat of the Moment” and “Only Time Will Tell” to some of the best Yes tunes, Downes and his fast fingers are there tickling the electronic ivories. As a key member of the above-mentioned bands, Geoff Downes has and continues to make music history. To mark the release of the Asia box set The Reunion Albums: 2007-2012, HUSTLERMagazine.com chatted with Downes via Zoom from his home in England to discuss all things Asia, a few things Buggles and a handful of Yes topics.
HUSTLERMagazine.com: Are you okay being interviewed by us?
Geoff Downes: Yeah, that’s fine.
Did they have men’s magazines in England when you were coming of age?
They did, but they were on the top shelf at the newsagents (the U.K. version of newsstands). And they were kept behind the counter in brown paper bags, a bit like alcohol in America. HUSTLER was quite popular once it came along. Before them, we had two men’s magazine choices. One was called Parade, the other was Naïve. Parade had this feature called “Readers’ Wives” and there were all these scantily clad or naked wives in really dodgy photographs. I was quite happy when HUSTLER came along because it was pretty “upmarket.” (Editor’s note: That’s British slang for expensive and of good quality.)
Before we delve into Asia and Yes, can I ask a few questions about The Buggles?