A random look at the life and times of Jim Rising recovering radio addict and newspaper columnist.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Robert Moog

This is an obit I did for my radio show. I played a bunch of songs that featured the Moog synthesizer. Probably one of the reasons why I no longer have a radio show.
Robert Moog has left the planet.
Not many people get to leave a legacy like his. The name Moog is almost as common in musician circles as Fender. The Moog synthesizer was a brilliant invention and it weaves its saw tooth melodies through and through our musical history.
Starting from 1968 there were a large string of albums played with Moog synthesizers in the mix. Walter Carlos' Switched-On Bach started it. Pretty soon the Moog entered rock music. Simon & Garfunkle recorded "Save the Life of my Child" which featured the Moog. The Beatles gave us Abbey Road in which several songs used the Moog. Then Emerson, Lake & Palmer really got serious with the Moog by going way overboard with Keith Emerson’s use. But before that, some guy named Dick Hyman, released this album: Moog: The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman in 1969
I remember the first time I heard It and the song called the “Minotaur” That was Dick Hyman (Keep your jokes to yourself please) working with an early model. I thought it was the coolest sounds ever recorded. The song actually got to number 38 in 1969.
Walter Carlos was the person (or so it is said) that urged Robert Moog to develop the instrument into a musician friendly machine that had a keyboard. To that point the Moog was a collection of patch cords and oscillators. At the time it was monophonic-it could only play one note a time so the music you are hearing had to be constructed meticulously one line at a time. It was probably that experience that led Walter to change his name and his sex to Wendy in later years but that’s another story.
Robert Moog had an inoperable brain tumor and passed on at 71.
But every time you hear George Harrison’s “Here comes the sun” you hear a part of his legacy.
I poked around you tube and found a bunch of interviews with Moog, who was a genuine person and modest about his accomplishments. This is a good one in spite of the host who said “Very cool” about six thousand times.

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