People from the world over have been inspired by Bob’s work, and by his open spirit of creativity. Many of the stories below were taken from the Caringbridge.org, a site that was set up when Bob was ill, and has since been visited by over 350,000 people. These stories, or tributes, serve to translate the power of Bob’s legacy as it lives on in legions of people.
Care to share your story of Bob? Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the details.
Dear Bob Moog Foundation,
Kenny Bergle here from Sweetwater Sound. I have a good one for you. At Summer NAMM 2000 (MIGHT have been ’98 or ’99 it was Nashville for sure), I was meeting with Paul Reed Smith, the guitar maker. He was telling me a story about how in the beginning of his company in the early ’70s, he met with Bob about doing an independent CV trigger for each guitar string so guitarist John McLaughlin could have a different MiniMoog on each string. PRS was asking Bob about a 6-voice polyphony Mini Moog synth so each string of the guitar would be a separate trigger and possibly a separate sound.
So we’re talking about it and Paul amongst the din of the NAMM floor says that he heard that Bob had passed (one of many ugly rumors flying around NAMM that year). I said, “Uh, no, I just was saying Hi to him at the Kurzweil booth upstairs.” Paul didn’t believe me and insisted he had died. I took Paul by the hand and marched him upstairs and re-introduced him to Bob. They stood and talked awhile, Bob remembering the problems with the concept that Paul had offered for McLaughlin and saying that now (then), of course, it was easy to do. Back then it was all monophonic for Moog.
Later PRS wrote me to thank me for introducing him to Bob, he had wanted to meet up with him again since their meeting in the early ’70s and never had. Pretty funny how close they were to inventing MIDI guitar back then, 15 years before MIDI.
Thanks for the foundation, Bob was always nice to me specifically and of course, made it easier for me to love the music industry in general. As soon as I get some cash loose for it, I will donate to the Foundation.
PS –OK one more short story. Bob came here to Sweetwater and Ft. Wayne in 2001. Technically it was April Fool’s day, 4/1/2001. I had recently acquired one of his EtherWaves that was already signed by him. I told him that my 5-month old (now almost 6) was playing the Theremin really well and actually understood the difference between the amplitude and pitch wands. After getting the thing Bob put a little note on the top of the EtherWave (in silver Sharpie, of course) that said “Benny, have fun with this Theremin” and dated it and signed it again. Also I couldn’t help myself so I asked Bob to sign the Moog Amp that came with the EtherWave and of course he did, to me, and dated that also. We all laughed about how long it would be till Benny could actually read that nice note on the top of the Theremin. Now every Halloween, Benny scares the bejeezus out of kids of all ages with that thing. We have it out by the candy bowl and it’s amazing how many kids are too scared to come up to the candy bowl because Benny or I are making wild sounds by just waving our costumed arms around. He’s in kindergarten and doing well, but still can’t read the note. He can, however, recognize Bob’s signature and handwriting and does so anytime we see a piece signed by Bob. He has composed several pieces on the Theremin. Actually composed since he plays the same little diddy every time. I have to believe part of this is Bob’s goodwill spreading
to my son. Weird how music works…
Thanks again! kb
I remember being four years old, a child prodigy, and becoming fascinated by the Moog organ. That was 1968 when my parents discovered my parroting my elder sister’s piano lessons whilst she pursued other, more psychedelic interests. There were many followers, but only one true innovator: Bob Moog. I think Emerson’s contribution was a 200,000 Kurzweil, not a Moog, as was erroneously referenced in one post, though surely Emerson, Wakeman and the progressive rock ilk took the Moog’s possibilities and ran with it. Digitized, digital rhetoric, digital cheerleaders can and will never, ever re-create the warmth of the Moog series, though, to give credit, digital doesn’t have that detuning issue once the instrument ages or is dropped by careless or stoned roadies. There is and never will be another sound so distinct on so many aural planes as the Moog sound. I know that when it is my turn to pass on into the afterworld, there will be a Moog accompanying the voices of the angels chorusing my welcome to paradise.
Bravo, Bob, for a job well done.
In 1983, I attended the AES Convention in Anaheim, California. Being a teacher of analog synthesis (on a beautiful Moog System 35 modular system) at a music school in San Francisco, I was naturally checking out all the synth manufacturer’s booths. The Synton company had a display of their modular machines, along with their new compact model, the Syrinx. So I strolled over to the big modular on display and was peering at the controls when I heard a voice at my shoulder: “Is there anything you’d like to know about the system?” I turned and saw Bob Moog standing next to me, smiling. I recognized him immediately, though the name tag he was wearing erased all doubt. He was working with Synton at the time and had designed the filter banks for the Syrinx. So I spent the next half an hour happily patching and tweaking a big modular synth with the Grand Master of synthesizers himself. He was friendly and gracious, and made me feel at quite at ease. I don’t remember a damn thing about the machine. All I remember is standing there thinking, “I’m patching synthesizers with Bob Moog! Woohoo!”
I’ve been a long-time fan of Moog synthesizers and actually had the chance to meet Bob once. He paid a visit to Strasenburgh Planetarium in Rochester (where I started in the planetarium business in 1972) as he apparently knew our then in-house composer, Tim Clark, well. We were running a weekend evening “special” called “Rochester Dreams” and people literally slept in the original comfy swivel chairs in the planetarium theater while we played all sorts of images up on the dome and music and sounds through our great audio system.
When the people woke up at various times they were interviewed and the group doing the project then looked to see if there was any correlation between what was shown on the dome heard over the speakers and their dreams.
Bob had come over from Trumansburg and he had the prototype of the percussion trigger under his arm. He showed it to Tim and I right there in the control room into the theater. It was a brown wooden drumshell about 10″ in diameter and there was a small device mounted on its rim (under the head) that had a gray wire coming off of it with a phono plug on the end. When plugged into the trigger input on our sound studio’s MiniMoog Model D it produced a sound when you hit the drumhead that was whatever was set on the synth.
This was the forerunner of the $40,000 metal-shelled hand-engraved kit (with Moog percussion synthesizers) that Carl Palmer bought and used on Emerson Lake & Palmer’s “Brain Salad Surgery” and took on the 1974 world
tour. It was later bought — according to Palmer in an article I read in a drumming magazine — by post-Beatles Ringo Starr.
FWIW; it’s a moment in my now 34+ year planetarium career that I haven’t forgotten to this day (I moved to Sweden in 1991 after 13 years at the Smithsonian’s planetarium to help build and operate this country’s largest modern planetarium and ImaxDome theater located in Stockholm).
I was a student at Indiana State University in 1972. I heard that this guy Bob Moog was coming to school to give a demonstration of his Moog synthesizer. The day of the demo I went to the hall and there was Bob all by himself. I walked up to him and introduced myself and said I’d love to check this out, he showed me what was going on and then I started to play. The Walls shook!! I was hooked at that point. That was my first synthesizer experience and I’ve taken it to a 30 year career in music. Attached is a picture of Bob and Myself when I was Music director at the first Moogfest in NYC. This picture makes it come full circle a true Icon who I have to than everyday.
I’ve never been fortunate enough to own a Moog instrument but the thought of having one has kept my spirit interested in synthesis for a long, long time. My Dad had an LP called Switched On Bach – the stories of how it came about
are many and varied. The LP gave me (a violinist/pianist/drummer into heavy metal at the time) a new way of looking at sound and how it’s created that I still find fascinating today. The BBC program Antiques Roadshow had one of the tracks from Switched On Bach (concerto number three in G, part 3) as it’s theme tune and I know that’s where my love of electronic music (and making it) started. I would lie awake as a 14 or 15 year old and marvel at the sounds I was hearing. How did they do it ??! Wendy Carlos knew. What a privilege for Wendy to be present at the beginning of a musical era that’s given us so many varied and interesting views on sound. Note I use the word sound rather than music – a synth can be used to create the most other worldly sounds – and folks seem to be able to transform the sounds into musical phrases like I do from time to time using modern tools like Reason, ReBirth etc. (Roland would be nowhere today without the Moog “thing” behind it). Absolutely wonderful, even praiseworthy. Thanks for everything Bob, and thanks to the Foundation for keeping Bob’s spirit alive.
I was seven years old when I first heard “Switched-On Bach,” playing on the radio in my grandfather’s Airstream trailer in Sequim, Washington State. I was there to visit with my dad\’s family; I had no idea what a “synthesizer” looked like, but in my seven-year-old mind, it looked like a drum kit with a guitar neck and a tuba sticking out of it. This was because my dad had explained how a “synthesizer is used to create the sounds of many different instruments.”
Anyway, much to my surprise and delight, a synthesizer was much-better embodied in the wood-paneled, black steel and silver knob cabinet propagated by Moog and others. This was back in the early 1980s, when the term “synthesizer” was synonymous with Moog, Sequential, and ARP. I still long for those days; they are gone, but they live on in the imaginations of people like me.
Bob will live on in the same way. I wrote to Keyboard magazine in the spring of 2003, thanking them for having put Bob on the cover of a recent issue. After I had gotten out of the hospital that summer (I have Marfan’s syndrome, and had to have my aorta repaired) I was greeted one day by another issue of Keyboard. In it, my letter was #1 on the letters page. I’m an idiot for having lost my copy of that magazine, but it probably isn’t too hard to find anyway.
Thanks so much for putting this web site here. I had always wanted to meet Bob, to thank him personally for having gotten me onto the correct path in my life. I always liked what he said at Kurzweil (a company for which I also
“Music is important; what you do in your life is important. What you do for a living is important. But sometimes, the things that really matter are things like family, community, and duty to your country.”
I have remembered that, albeit paraphrased. I think that it sums up his life beautifully. Thanks again. Take care.
I had “idolized Bob Moog from afar” ever since I was a high school student in the 1970s and my school purchased a Mini-Moog. (I wonder where it is now … probably stuffed away in a Music Department closet somewhere!)I spent nearly all my spare time at school experimenting with the synthesizer. I had become intrigued with Moogs as a result of Wendy Carlos’ Switched On Bach albums. I submitted as part of my final exam for that class a composition written for, and performed on, “The Moog Synthesizer.” The teacher, a bit of a fuddy-duddy, gave me a begrudged “A for Effort” but made it clear he did not think much of this “overgrown radio.” At that time, I had no idea Bob had anything to do with the theremin and
indeed had very little comprehension of what a theremin was at all other other than it was some sort of strange device that made strange sounds. It was not until Steven M. Martin’s documentary “Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey” came out in 1994 that I learned, as Paul Harvery would say, “The rest of the story.”I first met Bob in person in the summer of 1997 when I was a participant in the First International Theremin Festival there. I had known him for a couple of years prior, but had only spoken on the phone and had written correspondence with him. When I arrived in Portland, I mused to myself about what it would be like to meet Bob Moog face to face. I fully expected to have some sort of major mountaintop experience upon meeting him in person for the first time. I did know really know what I was expecting, but it surely was going to be something big, probably involving heavenly, angelic choruses and beams of celestial light streaming down upon him. As it turned out, my first encounter with him could hardly have been more anticlimactic. I was waiting at a street corner for the traffic light to change. Across the street I saw a man standing there on the opposite corner with white curly hair and wearing a nondescript sweater. Could it be…?The light changed, and the two of us began crossing the street heading toward one another. We meet right in the middle of the street and I saw that it was, indeed, Dr. Robert Moog. I said, upon meeting up with him, “Dr. Moog I presume?” He replied, “You must be Charlie Lester.” So there we met quietly, simply, uneventfully in the streets of Portland, Maine.
Later, when I arrived at the Conservatory I was regaling someone with the story of how I had envisioned my first meeting with Moog. When I got to the part about angelic choruses and beams of celestial light, a disembodied voice from the other side of a partition exclaimed, good-naturedly, Oh, my Gawd! It was Moog. I was more than a trifle embarrassed that he had overheard my starstruck and awestruck remarks!
The thing that I came to appreciate in Bob Moog is what a quiet, unassuming and humble man he is. I already knew of his electronic genius and virtuosity with a soldering iron. I also came to know that under that genius, under those years of international success and acclaim, lies a genuine, generous, kindhearted and willingly helpful person.
I’ll never forget the time he came to Los Angeles for a NAMM show and spent a full day with me. Among other things, he made a house call to take a look at my Ethervox theremin and make some modifications I had requested. I have a photo essay of that incredible day at www.137.com/bobmoog It’s still hard to believe he’s no longer with us.
Charles Richard Lester
Back in the early ’70s, while I was a Junior in High School, my friend Pat and I discovered the world of electronic music.
As a 16-year old, I was interested both in electronics and in music. It was probably inevitable that electronic music should capture my attention. I became obsessed with buying Moog LPs, particularly by French composer Jean-Jacques Perrey, and I played those records to death.
I even wrote to the Moog company, and pretending to own a recording studio (yeah, right…. if you mean the old recorder in my parent’s tool shed!), I conned a demo record and brochures out of the Moog company.
I pored over the brochures of Moog modulars that I knew I could never afford owning, and gazed at them in my classes at school, when I should have been studying.
Pat and I found out that a neighboring school (the RICH kids!) actually HAD a Moog in their music department, and one day after school we headed over there. I still have the battered tape that I recorded that day, during my few minutes playing a real Moog 15.
Fast forward 34 years, and after having been in rock bands, jazz groups, and cabaret acts, I once again find myself obsessed with electronic music. I have a huge “Moog Clone” modular synthesizer in my studio, lovingly created by Roger Arrick of Synthesizers.com, and with it, I’ve just recorded and released a new CD of happy MOOG music, with my boyhood idol Jean-Jacques Perrey.
Thank you, Bob, for your imagination, and helping spark my own imagination with your instruments. I can truly say that the Moog has changed my life.
Years ago, in the early 90s, I was hired by a local Kurzweil dealer to handle publicity for a lecture appearance Bob was going to make in Dallas, Texas, booked into the fabulous old Majestic Theater downtown. I sent out press releases and
was amazed by how quickly local radio stations and newspapers contacted me. The first radio program to book him was hosted by the local smart-mouth morning drive guys (you know the type.) But it was a top-rated station. I didn’t know what kind of guy Bob was, but I gulped and said. “When should he be there?”
I picked Bob up at the airport for the press tour, to be followed by his lecture appearance. He stepped off the plane in a plaid shirt, down vest, khaki pants and sensible walking shoes. He was just about the friendliest person I’d ever met. With some trepidation I took him to the first stop on his mini-press tour to appear for half an hour with the morning drive guys. I needn’t have worried about a thing. Bob was hip and hilarious. He could have done the whole show himself. After
that, we were off to stops with a local talk radio host and the classical station. He was in his element no matter where he was. I was impressed by his open outlook on life. As we drove around, he asked questions about everything he saw. That evening, a thousand people showed up to hear him, many with their vintage Moog synthesizers for him to autograph. We usually saw each other after that to wave hello at the annual winter NAMM shows in Los Angeles, where he was always surrounded by young fans. When I heard him interviewed on Fresh Air with Terry Gross on NPR, he was as humble and humorous as ever. I loved the fact that on his business card, his title was Grand Poobah. Bob Moog was still firing on all cylinders when a brain tumor cheated him out of who knows how many more years, ideas and achievements we might have enjoyed. He didn’t seem to waste a minute, and he left the world richer for having been here.
Fast forward to March 1973 — when bead met synthesizer inventor Dr. Robert A. Moog. “I was awakened by my wife Jane, to see Dr. Moog on a local TV talk show, demoing a large modular synthesizer. We had just viewed Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (featuring the incredible Wendy Carlos soundtrack) the prior evening, and were thrilled to find out that Moog Synthesizers were manufactured just a short distance from my home. That afternoon, I drove out to the factory and met Dr. Moog, who was wearing bedroom slippers. He spent a considerable amount of time with me, explaining electronic music concepts, and recommending a starter synth—the Moog Sonic Six,which I purchased the next afternoon, with the helpful guidance of David Van Koevering. My musical direction was formed that day, and I carried on to represent many companies including ARP, Oberheim, PPG, Polyfusion, Sequential Circuits, Linn, Roland, RMI, and many more.
The One Thing about Bob, is the one thing I CANN0T EXPLAIN, yet is the best, unexplained, that touched my soul.
Sincerely, Dan Huber
I remember the very first time I tried a MiniMoog. It was in a small music store in Baltimore, and I knew even then that nothing was ever going to be the same, as there was this magical new instrument that could become what you wanted it to be. I ended up homebuilding my first modular synthesizer while finishing college in the 70\’s. I bought a Memorymoog two years later, and was thrilled to have a polyphonic analog synth, which essentially was six MiniMoogs. I yet hope this instrument may be re-vitalized by the company, as it is most certainly the greatest analog poly-synth ever made.
I still have and use these two original instruments, and to me, they are a constant between the past and the future, as they are still very relevant. People sometimes dismiss them because they\’re pre-midi. I think they missed the point, personally. There is an aural- tactile response when playing analog synthesizers which does not occur with digital. I use a Kurzweil K2600 to round out my rig, and I feel I do have the best of all worlds around me.
I would very much like to add a Voyager at some point, (but alas to lack of declaratory money these days).
I’ve worked with many synths over the years, and nothing else has the sound of a Moog Low Pass Filter.
Though I own a sampling workstation to do the things that analog synths don\’t do, I can safely say, as I have two source instruments as a reminder, that virtual analog softsynths do not cut it in the least when compared to real oscillators.
I can’t imagine music without synthesizers. Dr. Moog did a very great thing.
I be a very big Bob Moog fan. Bob is and was a very big Idol for me. I love Bob and his Synthesizers. I have an old MiniMoog, a Moog Prodigy, a Voyager and a little Phatty soon. And I am very proud of my \”moog\” tattoo on my right upper arm.
My dream was to meet Bob, but the f….cancer. I hate this illness. I’ve only spoke with Bob on the telephone that was very nice.
I want to came to Asheville and visit the Moog factory, the moog people and I want to speak to Ileana bob’s wife.
I now I am crazy but moog is my live. Bob’s soul is in my Moog Synths.
BOB MOOG FOREVER
I always wanted to meet Bob Moog, because I had begun playing the Musical Saw (1983), and many people mistakenly thought I was playing the Theremin, or the Moog Synthesizer.
I have been \”on the road\” as a touring musician for 23 years, all over the U.S., playing unusual instruments mainly, and most people have never seen a majority of the instruments I play!
I called Bob several years ago and spoke to him for quite a while. I was struck by how friendly he was, and especially by how willing he was to listen to me and to do all he could to advise me and help me.
I wanted to order a Theremin Kit from him, but $$ have always been scarce and I was never able to actually buy one.
I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to play an authentic Theremin, and I also have played the Moog Theremin at a few festivals.
I did not remember that Bob Moog was from Asheville, although I had performed here in the past. When I moved here in May, I immediately found out about him and that he had passed on less than a year before I arrived.
My goal has always been to expose people to unusual instruments, and to the creation of unusual instruments, so Bob Moog is one of my heroes.
When I get back on my feet (I was robbed at a festival last year and they got all the instruments I had with me…. 33 instruments I had owned for 23 years and had recorded 16 CDS with!!!!) I hope to contribute in some fashion to the perpetuation of Bob Moog\’s contribution to the world.
I played a Mini Moog and used a PIII within a month of each other. I was in College at The Ohio State University. The early 1970\’s. I was a Music Major with a minor in Electronic Music. I went on for a Master of Arts in Education, Music and Psychoacoustics.
The Mini Moog was new to me. It looked easy enough to play. Tune an oscillator, then another…use an envelope…etc. HUH? Wait…I sign up for my first electronic music course at Ohio State. I learned about oscillators, envelope generators, LFO\’s and wave forms…all I wanted to do was play and compose…but I learned. During this time I was Producing Albums for local bands. They looked to incorporate the \”new sounds\” into their music…so I went on to course after course in electronic music. I borrowed Mini Moogs, Arp 2600\’s, Synth A (with a KS keyboard), a Mellotron…even a crude 16 channel vocoder (not all at once of course)…then came the Yamaha, profit, Korg, then Roland.
It seems so simple today…looking at a mini moog panel… which was the same as looking at the PIII I used at Ohio State..without patch cords and cables. WHAT an innovation! The hardest part was always being able to re-create that \”perfect\” sound again next time.
Today I am a producer and composer. I owned a studio for around 20 years in between…and I owe it all to Bob Moog, Gershin Kingsly and a desire to make \”just the right sound\” not only for my clients…but to suit me. After all…was there EVER a time when I couldn\’t \”tweak\” the resonance knob just a LITTLE more?
I was talking to Bob once, around the time he was designing the Minimoog Voyager. I said \”The original Minimoog is SO simple and basic, so it lets you work quickly and easily. Almost every sound it makes is a good one!\”
He said \”Ha! When we first put out the Minimoog (1970/71) the stores told us \’Keyboard players will never buy this, as they are NOT technical people at all. Guitarists and drummers have their hardware and gadgets to use, but keyboard players only use a piano and organ – they are not TECHNICAL!\’\”
Boy – things sure did change!
It is late August, 2005. Driving home, I listen to a news story on the radio about him. Some of it accurate, some not. They mention the modulars having tubes. There is a brief word from Stevie Wonder about his use of the Moog on Talking Book, followed by a snippet of a Stevie Wonder track featuring him playing the Hohner Clavinet. Like so many genius, so misunderstood.
\”We\’ll miss you, Bob\” is right. He was one of the very few that understood the importance of that intangible connection between performers of electronic music (or any music) and their instruments. In the days when synthesizers symbolized a new sonic frontier, Moog got it exactly right. When they became Moog Music again several years ago, they got it right again.
I can remember exactly the first time I heard that sound and it registered with me. I\’m five or six years old (maybe younger). I was watching TV with my parents. Captain and Tennille were on TV. I had never seen or heard anything like it. I asked my Dad what it was. He told me it was a Moog. Not a piano. Not an organ. A Moog. Wow.
A couple of years and a few dozen piano lessons later, I\’m in Radio Shack with Dad. It was between Christmas and New Years. At the time, they were selling the MG-1 – a RS branded version of the Moog Rogue. I got to *touch* it. I remember it went \”Wahhhhh\” in a raspy sort of way. I tried to play \”Happy Birthday\”. Wahh-Wahh Wah Waah Wah Wahhhhhhhhhh.
And that was it. It had me forever.
Over the next few years, things like Switched On Bach, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Yes and so on passed through my ears stuck in my brain. I will never ever forget that first moment my finger first touched a plastic key and that indescribable sound came back at me.
Thank you Bob, for giving us That Sound.
A Long Story Involving Music, Death, Snow and Coincidence
One Saturday morning in late 1991 I was woken from a deep sleep by the most ethereal of sounds. It was a perfect pure human voice singing Rachmaninoff’s ‘Vocalise’… no wait a minute, it’s wasn’t a voice, it was… a violin… and yet…
I came into full consciousness too late to catch anything much of the back-announce, except for the name of the artist: Clara Rockmore. It was enough to chase down the recording. It turned out that the sound I heard wasn’t a voice, or a violin, but that most enigmatic and fascinating of electronic instruments, the theremin.
As a teenager I had a fleeting interest in theremins, and even tried to build one out of an old electronics kit I hacked for the purpose. It wasn’t too successful, and I really didn’t have the chops to do it properly. Besides, I had bigger fish to fry; I had become obsessed with the gadget that had newly arrived in the local music shop – a music ’synthesizer’ called a MiniMoog.
Long story short: MiniMoog → rock & roll band → sound & music for school plays → film school → my own film company → lying in bed listening to Clara Rockmore effortlessly play the theremin, perhaps one of the most difficult-to-master instruments of all time.
I tracked down that recording of ‘Vocalise’ and discovered to my mild surprise that it had been produced by Robert Moog, inventor of that MiniMoog that had set me on my career path, and a man considered by many to be The Father of Electronic Music. As it turned out, Bob’s own career was directly related to his interest in, and manufacture of theremins as a teenager.
The comprehensive liner notes with the CD outlined the amazing story of Lev Sergeyevich Termen (Leon Theremin) and the invention of his extraordinary electronic musical instrument. That’s a different long story, and way too fascinating for brevity, but you should read it on Wikipedia sometime. What was most astonishing to me was that, at the time, Leon Theremin was still alive, at the grand old age of 95. And, as far as I knew, there was no film document of this important man and his contribution to music and technology.
I was very well placed to set up such a documentary, and I immediately started collecting information. I got in contact with a number of people and soon enough with a chap at Berkeley who told me in an email “I think someone’s already making a movie – you should speak to Bob Moog”
And I did. Yes, said Bob, a fellow called Steven Martin had almost completed his film Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey, after a difficult three year process. In keeping with my inept abilities as a surfer I had sensed the wave coming too late, and Steven Martin was already riding it to shore. Tarnation.
I had a number of very nice conversations with Bob though, so I didn’t feel too bad about losing the doco, him being a hero of mine and all. I also discovered that through his company Big Briar (now Moog Music), Bob was making theremins again. It was too good an opportunity to miss and I browsed their catalog and arranged for Big Briar to make for me one of their beautiful cherry wood Model 91Cs.
As fate would have it, the proposed completion date for my theremin would see me in North Carolina where I was to meet up with my business partner at the time, Alex, on the set of the new film he was directing, the soon-to-become ill-fated The Crow.
Big Briar/Moog Music is located in Leicester in NC, and it was a simple matter to arrange a slight detour at the end of my trip to collect my theremin in person. More importantly of course it would allow me the exciting opportunity to meet and shake hands with the man whose name was synonymous with electronic music.
It was never to happen. 1993 saw one of the worst storms ever to hit the east coast of the US, with North Carolina copping one of the biggest snowfalls in its history. The day before, I arrived with my traveling companions in Asheville NC, about a twenty minute trip to Leicester. The fairy-tale sprinkling of snow that started on that night was a big novelty for us Australians. “How very Winter Wonderland!” we cried, as we grappled with the concept of driving in treacherously icy conditions and on the wrong side of the road. It became something less of a novelty the next day when we had to dig down through several feet of snow to our rental cars. That was just to get our luggage. Those cars weren’t going nowhere. Neither was anything else in Asheville.
We stuck it out in Asheville for three days but things weren’t getting better in a hurry. Leicester was completely cut off from the world, and any possibility of getting there and back in time to meet our flight back to Oz was remote. We had no choice but to grab the first local flight out of Asheville (after a terrifying drive-cum-slalom in a taxi to the airport) and head back to a country where there isn’t ever much snow. Certainly not enough to bury cars.
My theremin was shipped to me not long after, and Bob phoned several times to make sure everything had arrived in good condition.
Steven Martin’s documentary was completed in 1993. It was an insightful and moving account of the story of the theremin. Lev Sergeyevich Termen died not long after the film’s release at the age of 97. Bob Moog sent me an email on that day. It said:
I thought you would like to know that Lev Termen died today, at the age of 97. Lately, he has been working on a device to reverse the aging process. Sadly for all of us, he was not able to finish that work.
I was very saddened to hear that Bob Moog himself died last Sunday. The enormous grief in the electronic music community can be felt on the Moog Music site, and on the Caring Bridge site, where thousands of people have left their condolences and sympathies, as well as thoughts and reminiscences about Dr Moog.
Unlike Leon Theremin, Bob Moog runs little risk of being forgotten. His legacy to the musical world is imprinted so strongly that the word ‘moog’ is almost a generic term for an analog synthesizer. And now, his instruments have been created virtually, as software emulations, for a whole new generation of sound-makers to discover.
So, at the end of this lengthy post, I would like to bid a personal farewell to Dr Robert Moog, the great man who I almost met. So long Bob. I feel I knew you well enough to call you a friend. Forgive me if that’s presumptuous. I’m not so presumptuous as to speculate on whether there is a heaven or not, but in my mind’s eye I cannot help but see you ascending a glittering stairway to some such place, dressed in a magnificent white tux, and accompanied, in a manner befitting your stature, by a chorus of a thousand angels playing perfect theremin.
As a high school junior in 1968, I was presented with three newly purchased records rejected by a friend\’s sister. They were apparently a little over the top for her but were potentially fascinating to me as an electronics buff. I played through the first two records with that look on my face you get from a dog when you whistle at it. The first had a most unfortunate title – \”Moog: The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman\”, then Pierre Henry\’s \”Le Voyage\”, an older electronic work with a new psychedelic cover. Between them, I recognized the status quo of electronic music as this klutzy, squeaky, droning cacophony of useless but occasionally amusing noises.
Then I played the last record, Walter Carlos\’ \”Switched On Bach\”, which was least likely to interest me since I didn’t like classical music.
As a child, I was taking music lessons in Germany from a real church organist. He loved coming over to teach because we owned a Baldwin Orgasonic dual manual with pedal electronic organ (containing 68 tubes). He made it sound great but I didn’t get it. My exercises were heavily biased toward classical themes instead of the Beatles sheet music I managed to smuggle into the house. I hated classical music because it was such a chore.
All those notions were washed away by the amazing rendition of the Third Brandenburg Concerto found on Switched On Bach. Switched On Bach changed my life.
From that moment, I began devouring classical sheet music including everything I could find from that album. The Baldwin was getting a demanding workout as I desperately attempted to replicate what I was hearing. Bach\’s Two and Three Part Inventions from my childhood lessons suddenly held credence.
My parents had no idea what to make of me. Their feelings were mixed over this strange sounding music which they would ridicule and refuse to tolerate. It had somehow given me purpose, diverting my road to becoming a wasteoid. My friends thought I was out of my mind. Within 45 seconds, any unrelated conversational topic would somehow morph toward the Moog Synthesizer and classical music. I was constantly correcting everyone\’s pronunciation of \”Moog\”, like they cared. This is a name worthy of respect as it represented a real person, a musical style, a new philosophy and a way of living that opened my eyes.
I was buying the entire wave of albums riding the success forged by Switched On Bach. My favorites were still the Walter/Wendy Carlos works but others were excellent, like Mike Hankinson\’s \”The Unusual Classical Synthesizer\”. Other works and performers began to enter my field of appreciation, especially Keith Emerson whose world renowned, jaw dropping keyboard abilities are still under appreciated no matter how many accolades he collected.
It still wasn\’t enough. A few years later, I scraped together enough cash to purchase a used Mini Moog. Borrowing a 4-track open reel tape machine, I pumped out tape after tape of multitracking, overdubbing, half-speed recordings and experimentation releasing my last shred of creativity, curing my unidimensional outlook on music. My electronic hardware efforts were bent on building mixing consoles and multitrack tape recorders from surplus parts for obvious reasons. I was consumed – in a good way.
Today, I can\’t claim any successes in the music world and can hardly believe what I had on tape was considered good by any measure. It was terrible, but it was the experience of the time that counted. It gave me depth and experience that carries forward to the professional world. Bob Moog became one of the few people who I could actually call a hero. Most memories from those formative days are tempered by the feelings of the tectonic shift taken by my attitudes and awareness, all directly traceable to the development of the Moog Synthesizer.
Thanks, Bob. Many, many thanks.
I have an old Mini Moog and I am very proud of it. Bob`s soul live in my old Synthesizer and I have a Moog Prodigy. I want to buy a little Phatty. I love Moog very much and I have a moog tattoo on my right arm. Excuse my bad English.
The first Moog to ever grace my presence was the Prodigy. I remember going to the guys house who was to sell it to me, and just seeing it for the first time. It only took a few twists of the knobs and a simple melody, to where I was surely in love with this machine.
Which brings up a good point. Is the Moog a machine? I believe not. I believe it is a sort of spiritual medium that can capture the musician\’s spontaneous parameters from the music in their minds, and bring it into audible reality.
The Prodigy has moved on, but in its place lay the gorgeous Minimoog Model D, Minimoog Voyager and two Little Phatty\’s, his very last amazing synth design. But in every Moog, there is the spirit of Bob. Every synthesizer, every where for that matter contains a part of Bob\’s innovative thinking process.
Thank you Dr. Bob !
The Volt per Octaves
MOOG LIVES. PLAY ON !
I first met Bob Moog around 1973, when I was attending the State University of New York at Albany and studying electronic music and composition with Joel Chadabe. Joel was good friends with Bob, and with his help, had assembled one of the largest Moog modular systems in the world at the time (http://www.moogarchives.com/chadabe.htm) – a system on which I spent thousands of hours. Bob designed many custom modules and components for the CEMS system, including the digital master clock system you see in the foreground of the picture above – and of course all the other modules as well.
Through Joel, I got to know Bob fairly well, and we found that we had an earlier unknown connection – Peter Reuter, a pianist friend of my father who was also an artist and graphic designer (and the inspiration for the \”Peter\” character in the comic strip B.C.), had designed Moog Music\’s new logo in the mid-Sixties, receiving a Moog Melodia Theremin in exchange. Peter gave that Theremin to me later when I told him of my interest in electronic music, and I kept it until just recently, when Moog Music was kind enough to give me a new Etherwave Theremin in exchange for the now non-functional Melodia.
Bob was a brilliant engineer and instrument designer, but he was a genuinely nice man too, always friendly and willing to share ideas and information with aspiring electronic musicians and composers, and always interested in and supportive of the work people did with his instruments, no matter how esoteric.
The last time I saw Bob was at the 2004 MoogFest in New York City, right around the time of his 70th birthday. I attended the MoogFest with Jordan Rudess, and we decided to do a live online performance using Moog and Moog-inspired instruments in honor of Bob\’s birthday. I hadn\’t seen Bob in years at that point, but he remembered me and was, as always, gracious and happy to record a little introduction for us for the performance, which we gave a few days later on Bob\’s actual birthday. He was clearly having a great time at the MoogFest, and it was gratifying to see the respect and admiration that the performers and audience had for him.
I am a composer today in part because of the inspiration his instruments provided me. He was, in many ways, the father of all contemporary electronic musicians, and his memory and work will live on forever.
Where would Electronic music be without Mr. Moog\’s creation of the mighty modular, after seeing ELP in Detroit in 1971, it was this concert that led me to diverge in the world of synthesis via Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze, and the rest of the German \”Berlin school\” artists who gave those thudding signature sequencer motifs, that today sound better than ever, a true test of time.
I always thought the world would stop turning, if just for a second, when Bob Moog passed away. And although we\’ve now lost him, fortunately our memories have survived and here\’s mine…
I had the great fortune of having lunch with Bob in Los Angeles in the Spring of 2005. We didn\’t know it at the time, but this was to be his last road trip. He had swung in to LA by way of Alaska, stopping by Big City Music to see one of his favorite retailers, Roger Cordell of Big City Music. Bob and I were acquaintances. I was amazed that he always remembered my name when we ran into one another. I mean, this was Bob Moog. The people he\’d met, the life experiences he had enjoyed. And with that, along with his great knowledge of electronics and life, he had also tucked my name away. Amazing.
During this meal we talked about the good old days. We spoke about Pril Smiley flooring their sales person at the \’72 AES show and one rather odd trip to mountain top radio station interview with Jon Appleton in which Bob feared the vehicle they were in would not survive. We spoke about delays, about acoustics and music. About the rise and fall of the great academic music studios which changed all of our lives. And through it all he glowed. Such passion, such energy. When I heard a few weeks later that he had fallen ill I could not believe my ears, for he seemed the most healthy of all of us at the table that day.
Bob, we miss you and we\’ll never forget. Thanks for changing our lives, but most of all, for just being.
Very respectfully submitted,
I flew into Asheville January of last year to pick up my Moog Voyager anniversary Edition. I had liased with Mike Adams, president of Moog Music to work out a good time to visit.
I arrived, a week after the NAMM show when Bob was a little under the weather. When I arrived at Moog, Mike told me Bob wasn\’t too well and the trip to California had taken it out of him. Still, he turned up to work on that Monday morning as if everything was OK. He didn\’t have much time that day to talk because he wasn\’t feeling well, but when i visited on the Wednesday to pick up the Voyager, Bob took time out to have a little chat and a picture taken with Mike Adams and myself. The Picture resides on my wall and is a reminder of a lovely visit and why I love synthesizers. For a gentleman who wasn\’t very well, he made me feel very special and was humbled by my visit from the United Kingdom ALL the way to N.C.. I would have travel 1000 times over to meet this man. It was an honor.
He even signed my Voyager for me which is more precious than words can say.
Bob was a remarkable man and is greatly missed.
All we can do as musicians is make sure MOOG lives on.
I have to tell you that ever since I was a young man I was truly fascinated by the sounds that I heard on the radio that I knew were not created on a stringed instrument or wind instrument. I think the first time that I listened to \”Lucky man\” alone, and in a quiet place I was blown away. Later in life I was able to buy the diminutive Moog Rogue, and although it does not compare to Keith Emerson\’s modular, it still has the Moog spirit dwelling within. I use it to create all kinds of sounds that are not possible in the natural world. I have a Voyager on my wish list at this time. Thanks Bob, for giving us this tremendous gift.