Geoffrey Downes (born August 25, 1952 in Stockport, Cheshire, England) is a rock keyboard player. He is best known as the keyboardist for the band Asia, and his stint with Yes in 1980. When he was a Keyboardist for The Buggles, he would play with 3 or more keyboards to achieve that New Wave sound. At least 2 on each side he had with two or more on each side of the keyboards he played. He was once entered for the Guinness Book Of Records for performing with most keyboards (28) on stage in one performance.
The son of musical parents (his father was a church organist and his mother a pianist), Downes also took up the keyboards and played in a succession of local bands. He attended Stockport Grammar School before studying at music college in Leeds. After graduating he moved to London, where he played sessions and composed advertising jingles. A 1977 appearance live with the Gary Boyle band was released as Live at the BBC by Isotope & Gary Boyle in 2004.
In 1976, he met Trevor Horn while auditioning for pop singer Tina Charles' band. They continued to work together, eventually forming The Buggles in a successful attempt to have a hit single ("Video Killed the Radio Star"). He hardly sang in The Buggles but he provided some vocals for their song "Clean Clean" and actually sang "Kid Dynamo." He had a pretty deep voice.
The success of The Buggles led to Downes and Horn joining Yes for one album (Drama) and the associated tour. Surprisingly, Downes was the first member of the band to have completed a music degree. Yes then split at the beginning of 1981. Downes subsequently joined forces with Yes' Steve Howe, Carl Palmer (from ELP) and John Wetton (from King Crimson) to form Asia in 1981. Asia was an immediate success upon the release of its eponymous debut record in 1982, and has formed the backbone of Downes's career since then. For many years, he remained the only founder member of the band. In recent years, Downes has teamed up with Wetton in a separate project under the 'Icon' banner.
In addition to recording and touring with Asia, Downes has also recorded a number of solo albums and collaborated with many other artists, including Glenn Hughes, Trapeze in 1991 for a tour that produced the live album Welcome to the Real World, and a brief appearance on Kate Bush's Sat in Your Lap. In 2005, he joined Yes drummer Alan White's eponymous band White.
He has also worked extensively as a producer with such acts as Mike Oldfield, The Thompson Twins and GTR. As a songwriter, he has written for such acts as diverse as Agnetha Faltskog (ABBA), Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman & Howe, and the rapper, Styles. In 2006, the Asia song "Heat Of The Moment" was used as the principal song in the blockbuster film "A Forty Year Old Virgin."
Currently, Downes is performing with the 4 original members of Asia again, and the band are embarking on a series of concerts around the World in 2007 to celebrate their 25th Anniversary.
Ride the Tiger was a project involving Downes and Greg Lake. The pair had worked together during Lake's brief stint in Asia and subsequently recorded material together. Drums on the sessions were by Lake's former band mate in King Crimson, Michael Giles. Nothing was released at the time, although some tracks later turned up on Lake's anthologies From The Beginning—The Greg Lake Retrospective (1997) and From the Underground Vol. II—Deeper Into the Mine. Some of the material from the project was re-worked by Asia (on Aqua) and by ELP (on Black Moon).
In an interview conducted December 2006, Downes said the three players who had inspired him were Rick Wakeman, Keith Emerson and especially David Sinclair. In the same interview, he identified his favourite Asia tracks as "Only Time will Tell", "Wildest Dreams", "Open Your Eyes" and "Voice of America".
In addition to recording and touring with Asia, Downes has also recorded a number of solo albums and collaborated with other artists, including with Trapeze in 1991 for a tour that produced the live album Welcome to the Real World, and a very brief appearance on Kate Bush's Sat in Your Lap. In 2005, he joined Yes drummer Alan White's eponymous band White.
Solo Discography[edit | edit source]
- The Light Program - 1987
- Vox Humana - 1992
- Welcome To The Real World - 1993
- Evolution - 1996
- The Work Tapes - 1998
- The World Service - 2000
- Wetton/Downes - 2002
- Shadows & Reflections - 2003
- The Collection - 2003
- Icon - 2005
- Icon Acoustic TV Broadcast - 2006
- The Bridge - 2006
- Icon Live - Never In A Million Years - 2006
- Icon II: Rubicon - 2006
- Icon 3 - 2009