The son of musical parents (his father was a church organist and his mother a pianist), Downes also took up the keyboards, playing in a succession of local bands before studying at music college in Leeds. After graduating he moved to London, where he played sessions and composed advertising jingles.
In 1976 he met Trevor Horn while auditioning for pop singer Tina Charles's band. They continued to work together, eventually forming The Buggles in a successful attempt to have a hit single ("Video Killed the Radio Star").
The success of The Buggles led to Downes and Horn joining Yes for one album (Drama) and the associated tour. Yes then split, and Downes joined forces with Yes's Steve Howe, Carl Palmer (ELP) and John Wetton (King Crimson) to form Asia in 1982.
Asia was an immediate success, and has formed the backbone of Downes's career since then. He remains the only founder member of the band.
In addition to recording and touring with Asia, Downes has also recorded a number of solo albums and collaborated with other artists, most notably on Kate Bush's Sat in Your Lap.
- The Light Program (1986)
- Vox Humana (1992)
- Evolution (1993)
- The Work Tapes (with Glenn Hughes) (1998)
- The World Service (1999)
- Wetton/Downes (with John Wetton) (2001)
- Shadows And Reflections (2003)
- Official site: http://www.asiaworld.org/