Friday, July 15, 2011

Trevor Horn: Architect Of Sound

Trevor Charles Horn CBE (born 15 July 1949) is an English pop music record producer, songwriter, musician and singer. He was born in Houghton-le-Spring in north-east England.


Trevor Horn began his professional career as a session musician in the late 1970s, including playing on Come Dancing. Most notably, he played for disco star Tina Charles and her producer Biddu, whose backing tracks was an influence on Horn's early work. One of the other members of her backing band was keyboard player Geoffrey Downes.

Horn and Downes formed The Buggles in 1978, in which Horn played bass, guitar and percussion as well as providing vocals. However, just prior to The Buggles, Horn signed with Sonet Records and recorded two singles under the moniker of 'The Big A'. One single "Caribbean Air Control" was released in the United Kingdom, but failed to chart. A few months later the song was remixed into a disco track under the name of "Chromium" ("Chrome" in the US) with no vocals and a synthesised and percussion backbeat. Again this song failed to chart, but did well in the disco clubs, especially in the US and Canada. An entire album was released in 1979 titled Star to Star. Around this time Horn, Downes and Bruce Woolley (Tina Charles' guitarist) co-wrote "Video Killed the Radio Star", which was released by The Buggles in 1979 reaching #1 in the UK Singles Chart and was the first music video to be played on MTV. The song also appeared on the group's first album, The Age of Plastic, which was released in 1980.

Later in the same year Horn and Downes were invited to join the rock group Yes.

Horn became the lead vocalist of Yes, replacing Jon Anderson. He recorded one album with the band, Drama, on which he also plays bass on one track. However, he left after seven months, at the beginning of 1981, to concentrate on his production work.

He also completed a second Buggles album, Adventures in Modern Recording, mainly alone after a disagreement with Geoff Downes.

Horn did work with Yes again, not as a band member, but (co-)producing their next two studio albums, including the 1983 "comeback" album 90125, and also went on to be a founding member of the Art of Noise. He is known for performing on albums he produces. His latest band is The Producers, in which Horn plays with various musicians/producers, namely Lol Creme, producer Steve Lipson and singer/songwriter Chris Braide. The band performed its first gig at the Camden Barfly in November 2006.


Horn has produced commercially successful songs and albums for numerous British and international artists. As a musician, he has had chart success with the bands The Buggles, Yes and Art of Noise.

Horn's first production success came with the pop band Dollar in 1981 and 1982. Four UK Top 20 singles, "Mirror Mirror", "Hand Held in Black and White", "Give Me Back My Heart" and "Videotheque" can all be heard on The Dollar Album (UK #18 1982), which is released on CD for the first time in February 2010 on Cherry Pop Records, and includes bonus previously unreleased alternate mixes of all the singles by Horn.

He produced The Lexicon of Love (1982) by ABC, which reached #1 in the UK Albums Chart. It was during the Lexicon sessions that Horn first assembled the production team that would characterise and define the sound of a Horn production in the 1980s: Anne Dudley on keyboards and arrangements, Gary Langan (later Stephen Lipson) as chief engineer, J. J. Jeczalik on programming for the Fairlight CMI, backing vocalist Tessa Webb plus percussionist Luis Jardim. Originally brought in to play keyboard, Dudley was soon co-writing with the group and scoring the album's orchestrations.

He achieved his greatest commercial success in 1984, firstly with the Liverpudlian band Frankie Goes to Hollywood. He was approached by Bob Geldof to produce the song "Do They Know It's Christmas?", but he was unavailable. Instead, he gave use of his studio, SARM West in London, free of charge to the project for 24 hours, which Geldof accepted, assigning Midge Ure as the producer instead. On 25 November 1984, the song was recorded and mixed. Horn did produce the B-side featuring messages from artists who had and had not made the recording (including David Bowie, Annie Lennox from Eurythmics, Paul McCartney, all members of Big Country and Holly Johnson from Frankie Goes to Hollywood) was also recorded over the same backing track as the A-side.

Other artists he has produced include John Howard, Paul McCartney, Tom Jones, Cher, Grace Jones, Seal, Propaganda, Tina Turner, Lisa Stansfield, Pet Shop Boys, Simple Minds, Eros Ramazzotti, Mike Oldfield, Marc Almond, Charlotte Church, t.A.T.u, LeAnn Rimes, and Belle & Sebastian. Horn received a Grammy Award in 1996 for Seal's second album.

Horn is also the executive producer of Jeff Beck's album, Emotion & Commotion, released in early 2010. He returned to work with Yes again, producing their 2011 album, "Fly From Here".
- Source: Wikipedia

Paul Morley, Horn’s co-founder on projects such as Art of Noise and ZTT Records: “If in the 60s, Phil Spector created a ‘wall of sound’,” he says, “by the middle of the 80s Horn had already established his sound, a whole room of sound, the walls, floors, ceilings, doors, windows, decorated with absolute flourish. As an architect of sound, Horn is unashamedly an exhibitionist, an utter show off... He has proved time and time again that pop is an art form, and that he is the supreme pop artist.”
- Source:

Happy Birthday to Trevor Horn - A Bit Of Groovy!

For more information on Trevor Horn: