In the mid-1960s, electric music pioneer Robert Moog created modular synthesizers using transistor technologies. His early synths featured modules that generate and modify the pitch, timbre, and volume of sounds when connected, or “patched” by cables. This allowed for unprecedented control of sonic parameters but made it difficult to replicate the same sound twice. Moog’s inventions came to the attention of the rock world when they were demonstrated at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. The following year, Wendy Carlos’s album Switched-On Bach became the first chart-topping hit utilizing a Moog synthesizer. The instrument has its performance debut at a 1969 concert in the Sculpture Garden at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC, where Moog introduced a quartet of synthesizers built specifically for live events.
Inspired by Wendy Carlos, Keith Emerson of the then-new band Emerson, Lake and Palmer sought out one of the synthesizers that Robert Moog had built for the 1969 concert at MoMA. The band’s 1970 hit single, Lucky Man,” with an expansive Moog solo by Emerson, helped to establish the synthesizer as a lead instrument in popular music. Emerson collaborated with Moog to expand the synthesizer and optimize it for live performance, adding additional components and preset modules that recall sounds.
Keyboard player and composer Rod Argent of The Zombies and Argent was born on this day, June 14th, in 1945. Read my review of The Zombies mind blowingly great 2011 performance at NYC’s City Winery at This Link. Happy Birthday, Rod!
Emerson With One of His ‘70s-era Moog Synthesizers
Keith Emerson, keyboardist for prog-rock legends, Emerson, Lake & Palmer was born on this day, November 2nd in 1944! Brain Salad Surgery is still one of my favorite albums of all time! Happy Birthday Keith!
Rick Wakeman, enigmatic and Arthurian keyboard player for Yes, was born on this day, May 18th, in 1949. Favorite massively overwrought Wakeman-era keyboard riff from a song by Yes: the climax to “Heart of The Sunrise.”Wakeman also appeared as Thor in the 1975 Ken Russell-directed Film, Lisztomania. Happy Birthday, Rick!