I guess I first heard a synth on, believe it or not, A Bob Marley record. there's some Moog on the "Natty Dread" album. Then stuff on the radio like "Come Sail Away", and all the disco hits, or early Bee Gees. There was a Steve Miller album, with a huge synth intro. Bernie Worrell and "Flashlight", then The Cars etc...Suicide, Devo. this all before 1980... then I got into Tangerine Dream, Eno, Philip Glass etc
I got my first synths in the early 80s.
Firsdt was a Radio Shack MG-1, the cheaper version of Moog's cheapest (?) synth, the Moog Rogue... Soon after I found a used Korg Poly-800, then a friend sold me his Sequential Circuits Six-Trak, and the *actual* Moog Rogue, very cool. Like so many ppl -- he was dumping "these old analog synths....there was all this cool new digital stuff coming out....some of these only play ONE NOTE !!"
Jump ahead 30 years ...Sad ending for my Rogue .... I had to sell it in hard times (as we tend to do).
Even worse, I had it signed by Bob Moog (the day we performed a show with Bob IN ATTENDANCE),
I studied Electronic Music & Musique Concrete with NYC downtown fixture Dan Goode. That was a truly amazing and life-changing class, as we covered stuff like working with reel-to-reel machines, tape splicing and old-school 'musique concrete' with actual tape... ,
I knew I wanted to work in that medium forever.
Mid 80s I played in a band called 'Rhythm Method' and we utilized synths, drum machines, sequences onstage. Looking back - it was crazy, ballsy and fantastic. The old recordings actually hold up well!
As a Guitarist - from day one I was interested in the weirder sounds...and the idea of a guitar playing synth sounds... When the company-killing ARP AVATAR came out , I was blown away just reading the ads. There was one of those 'Flexi-disc' demos in some magazine, I still have it. The little tune, I fell in love with.Sadly the Avatar had a lot of issues.....plus it wa the beginning of "bad synth-guitar marketing", a horrible practice that all parties have continued to this day. More on that later but basically trad guitarists DON'T want to have special pickups or rethink technique..... and synth heads are often not interested in a Guitar as a control-device..so it's eternally an odd area
I have owned and used many of the systems available from the 80s on; Casio GuitarSynth, Roland GK-2A, Godin Multiac, Roland GR-01, GR-20, VG-8, VG-99 etc...and been fortunate since 2006 to have worked and toured with some of the pioneers of Guitar-Synth and Electronic Guitar , including Al Di Meola, Adrian Belew, David Torn and currently Pat Metheny. So I get to have very nerdy gear-chats with my bosses over the years.
Decades Later..splitting my time between teaching/tour managing for various artists, many from the prog and fusion fields that influenced what I do. Including touring with electronic pioneers and masters Keith Emerson, Eddie Jobson, Geoff Downes, Adrian Belew, David Torn, Don Preston. Currently Touring the World with PAT METHENY.
Comprehensive list at www.guitartour.net
1990s...a great time for music in so many ways. The grunge revolution, loved a lot of those bands. But also Squarepusher, Aphex Twin, The Orb, Chemical Brothers, Massive Attack came along. Bjork was doing some amazing experimental stuff (as usual). The arrival of Nine Inch Nails was an amazing thing... here was pop melodies, gritty guitars, and 808 style 80s synth pads and baselines. Amazing. The energy of hip-hop, metal and 80s British brilliance noise like Throbbing Gristle & Coil was combined with influences like Depeche Mode & New Order. Not to mention ideas inspired y Eno, Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk and Suicide....I loved it !! To this day NIN is a massive influence, and always on high rotation at WAATT HQ....
As the 90s unfolded, I'd read voraciously the British magazine that seems to focus on the unfolding "soft-synths" revolution. Reason, DP, Ableton, Max For Live, all these amazing things were coming out. Sample banks, plug-ins, DAWs all became part of the language. With increasing internet speeds, downloads of software became easy, cheap...then free. (Musicians would EMBRACE all these free audio, synth and processing stuff...then a decade later cry, piss and moan that 'no one wants to pay for anything...')
As a fan, I was so psyched that two musicians I love, Jeff Beck and Joe Satriani were combining sequences and synths with rock guitar. Couldn't believe it. As before, the appearance of synths freaked out some of the more "sonically conservative" fans... but Beck had done it in 1980 (There And Back) and 1989 (Guitar Shop), not sure why ppl were so surprised........
The 90s saw a mind blowing amount of new synths drop...most of them Digital wavetable stuff.. of course MOOG flew the flag for analog the highest, with the Voyager seeing the light of day , and their "module in a pedal" MoogerFooger line. Amazing stuff , and a few years later I was honored to work two trade shows for Moog Music Inc. I demoed the MP201 MIDI/CV CONTROL PEDAL for them at NAMM, and then the MOOG GUITAR at Musikmesse in Frankfurt Germany. fantastic time at both places...
A few 90s items still in operation at WAATT HQ - the Roland SH32, a nice hybrid of a digital waveform synth with an old-school control surface, all controls on the front like an old analog. A couple unique pieces, the Alesis AIR SYNTH and AIR-FX still see a fair amount of use.....
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