2000–2002: Formation, Busted and rise to fame
James Bourne and Matt Willis had been friends for a number of years and had written material together. Willis claimed that they had been inspired by Green Day, Blink-182 and BBMak. Busted were formed in early 2000, after open auditions were held by Warner Music Group to form a new band, and originally consisted of Bourne, Willis, Ki Fitzgerald and Owen Doyle, although this version of the band broke up later that year. Charlie Simpson and Tom Fletcher auditioned to be in the band and were both offered a place to complete the lineup. 24 hours later, however, Busted's manager told Fletcher via a phone call that the band was to go ahead as a trio, comprising Bourne, Willis and Simpson.
The band was launched in August 2002, making their first appearance on the cover of Smash Hits with the headline: "Meet Busted: They're Going to Be Bigger than Rik Waller!", making it a first for any pop band to appear on the magazine's cover before releasing a single. Their debut single, "What I Go to School For", inspired by a teacher that Willis had a crush on at school, was finally released in September 2002. It reached number three on the UK Singles Chart. Their debut album Busted was then released, initially charting only around the UK Top 30 and receiving mixed reviews from critics. The follow-up "Year 3000", which was written about Bourne's obsession with the film Back to the Future, then followed in January 2003, reaching number two in the UK chart. In April, their third single, "You Said No" finally reached number one. British Hit Singles & Albums certified them as the first act ever to have their debut three singles enter the top three in an ascending order.
Recording began for their second album while the debut album was re-released with new tracks and an enhanced CD section. It would go on to sell 1.2 million copies by the end of the year. The debut album's final single, "Sleeping with the Light On", reached number 3 in August 2003, beaten to number one by Blu Cantrell's "Breathe".
2003–2005: A Present for Everyone and split
Busted started the summer of 2003 with a win for Favourite Newcomer at the National Music Awards, as well as Best Band at that year's Disney Channel Kids' Awards. After this, the band launched the promotional trail for their new album, A Present for Everyone and its lead single "Crashed the Wedding", which reached number one in the UK chart. Edgier than their previous album, Simpson said that it had some "harder, Good Charlotte type vibes coming through on this album". This album would also go on to reach sales of over 1 million copies.
During 2003, Charlie met fellow songwriter-guitarist Alex Westaway and drummer Omar Abidi at a party. He was by this stage becoming increasingly frustrated by the music he was performing in Busted and stated he had "all of this creativity pent up inside and I just needed to vent it somewhere, and I was writing a lot of songs but I couldn't play them, because I didn't have anyone to play them with". During the aforementioned party, an impromptu jam session took place. Simpson, Westaway, and Abidi played Rage Against the Machine's song "Killing in the Name" on loop, and agreed to attend a gig a few days later. After the show, they went back to Simpson's flat and began performing on guitars and a v-drum kit, which led to their first song being written, titled "Too Much Punch". Westaway later invited bassist Dan Haigh to practice with the band and soon began booking regular rehearsal sessions together, under the name Fightstar.
2004 was to prove their final year together as a band. The band performed a successful arena tour to start the year before reaching number one and number two with "Who's David" and "Air Hostess", respectively. The band picked up Best British Breakthrough Act and Best Pop Act at that year's BRIT Awards.
The band then headed over to America to release a self-titled album that was a mixture of their first and second album. Their exploits were captured for the TV series America or Busted, about Busted's attempts to achieve success in the United States, which ultimately failed. The show debuted on MTV UK in November of that year, over the course of the series, it saw Busted's attempts to 'break' America dwindle as interviews fell through and performances remained limited both in terms of audience size and press attention.
Whilst the band were out in America, they were then invited to record the theme tune to the brand new Thunderbirds film that was coming out that summer. Released as a double A-side with the album track, "3AM", it gave them their fourth and final number one in August 2004, staying at the top for two weeks, the longest they had ever spent at the top. However, the release of the fifth single from their second album, "She Wants to Be Me" failed to chart due to its lone formats being a download and a limited edition pocket sized CD, both of which breached chart regulations at the time. Their live album, A Ticket for Everyone, was released in November peaked at number eleven. The band embarked on another sell-out tour that November, and Busted gained a record of the band to play the most consecutive sellout dates at Wembley Arena, eleven nights. At the end of 2004, Busted were involved in the UK number-one Christmas single, Band Aid 20's "Do They Know It's Christmas?" with money raised helping to combat HIV and AIDS across Africa, famine relief in the Darfur region of Sudan and aid relief in many countries, such as Ethiopia.
Simpson's time spent with Fightstar reportedly began to cause tensions within the band, amplified when Fightstar announced a 14-date UK tour. Simpson announced to Busted's manager on 24 December 2004 over a phone call that he was leaving the band to focus on Fightstar full-time. On 13 January 2005, Busted's record label announced that a press conference was to be held at the Soho Hotel in London the following day. The next day, the 14th, it was then announced that Busted were splitting up after Simpson's departure weeks before.
In an interview with Kerrang! in November 2009, Simpson said, "It was a real fun thing to be doing, and I got on well with everyone I was doing it with, but on the other side, the music wasn't really fulfilling me. I have good memories of the time because we were traveling the world and doing some amazing things, but then as far as self-fulfillment goes, it wasn't really doing a lot for me, so I have these mixed views when I look back. But there's no doubt that it was an amazing thing to do".
2006–2012: Solo projects and bands
Charlie began pursuing a solo career after playing in Fightstar, a post-hardcore band which differs greatly from the sound of Busted. They formed a year prior to Busted's split. To-date they have released one EP and four albums: They Liked You Better When You Were Dead, Grand Unification, One Day Son, This Will All Be Yours, Be Human and Behind the Devil's Back, all being released in both the UK and the US. They have also released an album of b-sides and rarities, "Alternate Endings". Fightstar announced a hiatus at the beginning of 2010, stating that they were "taking some time off" to work on separate projects before regrouping to begin working a new record. After their 2014 reunion and 2015 album, Fightstar began to describe themselves as a "passion project" rather than a full-time band, as the members focus on other projects. Simpson released a solo acoustic album called Young Pilgrim, which peaked at number 6 in the UK Albums Chart in 2011, followed by the 2014 album Long Road Home.
James went on to release music through pop punk band Son of Dork, but is now pursuing a solo career under the name of Future Boy. Bourne has also written songs for many artists, including Melanie C, McFly, JC Chasez, Patrick Monahan, and the Jonas Brothers. From 2007– 2008, he was one of the main songwriters for the ITV musical drama, Britannia High.
After a brief stint in rehab after the Busted split, Matt set up a solo career, releasing singles in 2006 and 2007, "Up All Night", "Hey Kid", "Don't Let It Go to Waste", and "Crash" for the film Mr Bean's Holiday, all except the latter of which were included on his album Don't Let It Go to Waste. Matt also appeared on, and was crowned winner of, the 2006 series of I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!. After being dropped from his record label, Willis has turned to presenting. So far he has presented at the Brit Awards and more recently ITV2's I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! NOW! alongside his wife, Emma, the pair are due to get together again for E!, presenting the BAFTAs. On Willis' Myspace, he has stated that he is currently writing with his new band, yet to be named. From February to November 2012, Matt Willis starred as Fiyero in the musical Wicked in London's West End where he received mixed reviews. It 2013 he also appeared in West End Men with fellow musical star Lee Mead at the Vaudeville Theatre in London for a limited time.
In 2010, some sources suggested that, after a £1 million offer, Busted would reform for a tour and possibly a new album. Charlie denied that he would return to Busted, stating, "I wish Matt and James all the best with their future projects but I want to make it unequivocally clear that I have no interest what-so-ever in re-joining Busted and I never will", but James wrote on his Twitter page, "I'll fucking get up and do it any time, any day, anywhere".
From 19 to 22 September 2013, Matt and James made a surprise brief reunion as Busted when they joined McFly as special guests during the band's four 10th anniversary concerts at the Royal Albert Hall. They performed "Year 3000", "Air Hostess" and McFly's "Shine a Light" with McFly under the name 'McBusted'. McFly and Busted confirmed a 2014 tour together. Charlie said through Twitter that although he will not be joining James, Matt and McFly on tour in 2014, he wishes them the best of luck in the future. McBusted released their debut album McBusted on 1 December 2014. They then embarked on another sold out UK tour, McBusted's Most Excellent Adventure Tour.
2015–2016: Simpson's return, comeback tour and Night Driver
On 5 October 2015, The Sun rumoured that Simpson was set to rejoin Busted. After this, a photo made its way around the internet that showed the three members of Busted silhouetted in front of a red background. Words appeared to be blurred out at the bottom of the image, but above that was the words "Join us for a special announcement Tuesday November 10th 2015". This implied that the band was reuniting, with further speculation that the three would embark on a reunion tour together. On 10 November 2015, Busted announced a thirteen-date arena tour in the UK and Ireland would take place in May 2016. At the same press conference Busted announced their third studio album. 100,000 tickets were sold in the first hour of being put on sale. Subsequent tour dates were added as a result of high demand.
Busted performing in Glasgow during the Pigs Can Fly Tour
Regarding his decision to rejoin the band, Simpson told Newsbeat: "I reckon I said it [so many times], privately and publicly, and I meant it every single time. But as I say I have changed my mind and that has been down to the circumstances changing. I never thought we would get to a point where we were in a studio writing music we all got behind creatively and that was a huge shock to me".
In early 2016, Busted recorded their third studio album in Los Angeles. On 17 March 2016, Bourne told a fan on that Busted would decide the release date for their third album that day. It is scheduled for release in the Autumn. The band have also insisted that their reunion is for the long-term; as Bourne told Digital Spy, "We want this to be something that is ongoing. Anything we write now goes towards album four". On 4 April 2016, Busted announced that their tour would be called the Pigs Can Fly Tour 2016 and would include Wheatus and Emma Blackery as special guests. Regarding the title, Willis told Newsbeat, "The whole pigs can fly thing sums up how we feel about this. There have been times that we thought Busted could never, ever possibly happen and we were quite right in thinking that. But this summarises that anything is possible". In an interview with Digital Spy, the band revealed that their fans will get a taste of their new sound before their reunion tour and that their eleventh single will be released in the summer, and their album would follow in the autumn.
On 25 April 2016, it was officially announced that South African drummer Cobus Potgieter, popular on YouTube, would be the supporting drummer for the band during the tour. On 3 May, Busted released "Coming Home", their first new song for 12 years, as a free download from their website. During the 'Pigs Can Fly' tour, Busted premiered two new tracks titled "Easy" and "One of a Kind", from the upcoming 2016 album. In an interview with The Sun, Busted revealed that they had signed with East West Records. Willis told Dan Wootton, "We've had an incredible time on our arena tour, and are now looking forward to releasing new music through a global partnership with East West". Chalmers, president of East West, said: "Watching Busted play live over the past few weeks and seeing people respond to their music and energy has been amazing. Busted have a huge global fanbase who are going to be really excited to hear the new music the guys are working on. They've managed to combine the classic Busted sound with a modern twist, it's sure to remind people of why they love them. We're really happy to be working with Charlie, Matt and James".
On 14 July 2016, Busted revealed that the "final touches" to the album were complete.
On 18 August 2016, it was announced by BBC News that a musical based on the band's history written by Bourne and Elliot Davis was to be staged, What I Go to School For will depict the group's rise to fame. It will be performed at the Theatre Royal Brighton in August 2016 and will feature songs like Air Hostess, Crashed the Wedding and Year 3000. If the show is a success Bourne and Davis have said they would like to take it to the West End.
On 9 September 2016, Busted revealed that their third album would be called Night Driver.
On 3 May 2016, "Coming Home" was released as a promotional single from the album. On 30 September 2016, "On What You're On" was released as the first official single from the album. Another song, entitled "Easy", was unveiled on 18 October 2016. Two days later, on 20 October 2016, Busted announced that due to production delays, the album release would be pushed back to 25 November 2016. The same day, Busted released a video for "Easy" filmed live at Pool Studios.
On 23 October 2016, the band made their first TV performance in over 12 years on The X Factor to perform "Year 3000" with the contestants.
2017–present: Half Way There
In June 2017 Busted flew to Los Angeles to perform their first American re-formed gig at the Troubadour and continue writing and begin recording for their planned fourth album.
In April 2018, it was confirmed the album would release in Q1 2019, and the band would return to their original sound.
In May 2018, Cobus Potgieter, who had previously stood in as drummer on Busted's 2016 tour, announced that he would be the studio drummer for the upcoming fourth album.
In July 2018, Bourne tweeted saying, "We're listening back to some mixes for the upcoming fourth album," he also said there’s a new single on the way. Confirmed songs so far, "Nineties" and "Race to Mars". On 26 October, they announced their fourth album Half Way There (a reference to a lyric in the song Year 3000) would be released on February 8 2019. The album features a cover of James Bourne's song, "What Happened to Your Band", which was previously performed by his band Son of Dork and recorded by McBusted, and returns to the roots of their musical style. The first single of the album, "Nineties", was released in the first week of November 2018.