Formed in Los Angeles in the late 1970s, the original lineup featured brothers Brian O'Neal (keyboards, vocals) and Kevin O'Neal (bass, vocals), Gus Louderman (vocals), Mike Jones (keyboards, vocals), Vic Johnson (guitar), and Steve Felix (drums). All of the original band's members were African-American except Felix, who is of Hispanic heritage.
The group is best known for their appearance in the 1982 film 48 Hrs., in which they performed their songs "New Shoes" and "The Boys Are Back in Town" (the latter song is also heard during the closing credits). The band opened for the film's costar, comedian Eddie Murphy, during his subsequent Delirious standup comedy tour—during which he referred to them throughout the program—including an hour-long special that aired on HBO. On January 29, 1983, the BusBoys were also musical guests on an episode of Saturday Night Live with Murphy singing background vocals for the band.
A follow-up song, "Cleanin' Up the Town," written for the soundtrack to the 1984 film Ghostbusters, was a minor hit for the group, reaching #68 on Billboard's Hot 100 Singles chart in the United States. The album was nominated for a Grammy award.
The BusBoys' first two albums on Arista Records, Minimum Wage Rock & Roll and American Worker, both reached the Billboard 200 chart.
On February 29, 1988, they released a third album entitled Money Don't Make No Man with a more synth-funk feel. The track "Never Giving Up" featured Eddie Murphy prominently during the chorus. Murphy also appeared in the music video to support the album release and the song release. The music video was shot at "The Palace," which is now known as "Avalon," on Vine Street in Hollywood, across the street from Capitol Records. The music video was directed by legendary director Wayne Isham.
The band replaced Louderman with Reggie Leon and Jones with keyboardists Andrew Kapner and Bill Steinway. Kapner, being a 16-year-old high school student, was unable to tour in 1985, and Mike Radi was brought in to play keyboards for the road shows. Greg French also replaced Kevin O'Neal on bass, although both O'Neal and Louderman are credited as additional musicians. The BusBoys toured extensively with this line up, appearing with prominent acts such as Linda Ronstadt, Brian Setzer and The Stray Cats, and ZZ Top. Their many TV appearances included American Bandstand, Soul Train, and Don Kirshner's Rock Concert.
In 2000, they released their fourth album, (Boys Are) Back in Town, which featured rerecorded versions of their two popular songs from 48 Hrs. It was the first time that the title track had been made available on one of the band's CDs. Gus Louderman (vocals) returned to the band's line-up, along with two new members, Kenny Tomlin (bass) and Jorge Evans (guitar). Brian O'Neil commented in an interview with Songfacts that, "for almost 20 years it was probably the most famous song in the history of America that had never been released."
The band has enjoyed a rebirth in large part to the popular use of "The Boys Are Back In Town" in various television sports programming. The track has served as the theme for the NBA and Fox Sports Network's coverage of Major League Baseball. In addition, their song "Did You See Me," was used to promote the NFL Re-Play series on the NFL Network in 2006 and 2007.
After several years out of the limelight, The BusBoys made an appearance on ABC TV during the Capital One Bowl on New Years Day 2005 under their new name, "Brian O'Neal and The BusBoys." And in early 2006, they began releasing tracks from their new music project, Sex, Love and Rock & Roll, via digital download. The full album was to be released in CD form in late 2007.
In July 2007, the band announced on its web site that they were at work on a documentary film, The Story of Brian O'Neal and The BusBoys, directed by Ruth Robinson.
Released on Arista Records, 1980
Released on Arista Records, 1982
Released on Rattlesnake Venom Records, 1988
Released on Rattlesnake Venom Records, 2000