Houston Matters

The World Wasn’t Always Friendly To Howard Jones And His Synthesizer

The pioneer of synth-pop discusses his music ahead of his July 17 Houston concert.

Musician Howard Jones
Musician Howard Jones will perform July 17 at Houston’s House of Blues.

Drum machines and synthesizers are common sights in plenty of bands these days. But there was a time when that was revolutionary – and even controversial.

One of the early pioneers of synth-pop was British musician Howard Jones, and he remembers a time when not everyone liked what he was doing on stage.

“The musician’s union tried to have me banned,” he said. “Cause they said I was taking jobs away from musicians, which was very short-sighted really because I think I’ve hired more people [over the years].”

The general public didn’t seem to mind. In the 1980s, Jones scored several Top 40 singles in the both the U.K. and the U.S., with hits like What Is Love and Things Can Only Get Better.

Jones has continued to record albums and tour ever since. Now, on the 35th anniversary of his debut album, he’s got a new one called Transform, and he’ll perform at Houston’s House of Blues Wednesday night (July 17).

In the audio above, he tells Houston Matters producer Michael Hagerty about the near-fatal event that spurred him to dive deeper into making music, about the revival of synth sounds in recent years, and about his latest release.

Musician Howard Jones
British synth-pop pioneer Howard Jones.

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Michael Hagerty

Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the senior producer for Houston Matters. He's spent more than 20 years in public radio and television and dabbled in minor league baseball, spending four seasons as the public address announcer for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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