BMF Board President Bryan Bell Responds to Ileana Grams-Moog

An Open Letter from Bryan Bell, President of the Board of Directors, The Bob Moog Foundation

The past three weeks have been hard ones for the children of Bob Moog and the staff, board and friends of the Bob Moog Foundation (BMF). As President of the BMF Board of Directors, I am profoundly disappointed in Dr. Ileana Grams-Moog’s decision to withdraw her support for the BMF, a not-for-profit organization devoted to perpetuating Bob’s love of music and innovation, the manner in which she chose to do it, and her exclusion of key facts.

I knew Bob well. We were colleagues and friends for more than 30 years. During that time, we collaborated on projects and solved problems that changed the way music is made. I serve on the BMF board because it is the truest representation of Bob’s legacy. That is why I also know how sad it would make him to see what is happening in his name, and why we should all be asking Ileana a few questions.

What’s behind the sudden decision to take the archives away from the BMF?

  • On Feb. 14, 2013, after 18 months of personally and directly negotiating with Ileana, we agreed upon the BMF’s temporary custody of the archives and management of Bob’s Rights of Publicity (his name, image, signature, and voice). This was the first step towards a much larger agreement between us. In the words of the interim agreement, we were working “together in good faith to define and execute a mutually satisfactory [larger] Agreement as rapidly as possible,” or so I thought.
  • Suddenly, on February 25, Ileana notified me that she would not sign the interim agreement, based on information she had received from Moog Music President Mike Adams. (Note:  Mr. Adams was a BMF board member at the time these discussions took place.) The BMF quickly addressed Ileana’s concerns in writing, concerns that she never voiced to me as the BMF board president and concerns that were later proven to have no basis in fact.
  • Why was there no consultation with Bob’s children about the future of their father’s archives and his Rights of Publicity?

 

What about money?

  • We all agree that Bob’s legacy is priceless, but his share of Moog Music and his Rights of Publicity have price tags. Because Ileana has chosen to publically disclose the BMF’s offer to purchase the archives, I challenge her to disclose the detailed terms, both financially and legally, of her sale of Bob’s share of Moog Music and her sale of Bob’s Rights of Publicity to Mike Adams.
  • Was there a financial contribution to Cornell from Moog Music regarding the archives? Will Moog Music, for example, have access to the Cornell Archives for their commercial purposes? Will the Bob Moog Foundation and Bob’s children have access to the archives for their own use? 

 

Has The BMF been a good steward of Bob’s archives?

  • The answer is an unequivocal YES. For seven years The BMF has consistently acted in the best interest of Bob’s legacy, rescuing his archives from moisture, dirt and mildew; storing the archives in secure climate controlled storage; entering into a lease with the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources to secure state-of-the-art archival facilities in Western N.C.; and making the difficult but prudent decision to defer a capital campaign to fund building of the Moogseum.
  • Ileana has said that her decision to move the archives was based, in part, on the fact that construction has not started on The Moogseum, the eventual Asheville home for Bob’s archives. At no time did she ever communicate that requirement to the BMF Board or me. Furthermore, during her tenure as president of the BMF Board, Ileana personally oversaw the decision to postpone the Moogseum’s capital campaign until the economy recovered from the nation’s worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. The economy aside, great museums take a long time to build. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, for example, took 16 years to plan before breaking ground.

 

The BMF’s leadership, board and staff have intentionally stayed above the fray, and we encourage our supporters to do the same. Ileana’s decision to move the archives, which was announced in a press release written and distributed by Moog Music’s public relations firm and posted on Moog Music’s website, has unleashed negative comments, many of which raise questions about the role Mike Adams and Moog Music played in Ileana’s sudden change of heart. The BMF has chosen to take the high road, and we will continue to do so, despite many inaccurate comments from Ileana and Mike Adams. That’s what Bob would expect of us. But Ileana’s decision and its timing, the wording of the announcement and the secrecy surrounding its release raise troubling questions about whose interests are really being served by Ileana’s actions.

As for The BMF, we will continue to do what we do best – inspiring and igniting creativity through historic preservation of the Bob Moog Foundation Archives and creating programs like Dr. Bob’s Sound School, that introduce children to the power of music, science and innovation. Nothing would have made Bob happier or prouder.

(Trademarks referred to in this letter are the property of their respective owners)

Sincerely,

Bryan Bell, President

Bob Moog Foundation Board of Directors

Bryan Bell is President and Founder of Synth-Bank Consulting, LLC (Synth-Bank®) a technology practice focusing on using technology to enhance business and creative processes. Bryan spent 20 years consulting and pioneering technology innovation for high-profile corporations and entertainers, including Apple, Domain Chandon, NBC, GEIS, Herbie Hancock, Carlos Santana, Neil Young, Branford Marsalis and INXS. He has served continuously for over 20 years on the board of directors of The Bridge School. Bryan holds a DIS from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Business Administration and has been a speaker at conferences around the world. Bryan Bell’s latest music production project, “Duality”, by Nestler and Hawtin was recently released on iTunes.

5 Responses to “BMF Board President Bryan Bell Responds to Ileana Grams-Moog”

  1. Christopher Simmons

    Thanks Bryan for the update as myself, and likely many others, who have been a proud supporter of the BMF have been startled, incredulous, disappointed, and even angry at the whole turn of events and perhaps even “perplexed” might fit into that word jumble. Bob’s marvelous inventions were critical in inspiring myself and many others to explore electronic music as children of the late 20th century, and I was an early supporter of the BMF and have contributed where I could with dreams of one day visiting the Moogseum. I appreciate the high road you have taken, but it still seems like a very sad divorce and the kids are sad, but maybe we’ll be alright. That remains to be seen, and I’m really dumbfounded on how to view the Moog® Music folks these days in relation to this turn of events, which seem more calculated than in the best interest of the materials and legacy. Perhaps this will have the reverse intent of the actions taken by Moog Music’s management due to ill will. We can only hope for the best, out here in the wild. Thoughts and well wishes to all at the BMF. -Christopher

  2. Hanford Searl Jr.

    … Thank-you for sending this letter today.

    – I agree about “staying above the fray.” Having interviewed Bob for “Billboard Magazine” here in Bflo., NY in thee ’80s, my impressions of him included his friendliness & openess with any he came in contact with.

    … Hopefully this can all be worked out, keeping his true legacy “alive & well” for today’s children, who too often don’t even have music in their schools! & future generations.

  3. John Morley

    You have my continued support. I am saddened not only by Ileana’s sudden reversal but also the lack of response from Moog Music and Mike Adams who in my opinion showed great disrespect to the hard work of the BMF and Bob’s daughter Michelle. If it were not for the BMFs hard work the archives would be rotting in a basement. Sadly, they will now find obscurity in a climate controlled ivory tower.

  4. Wheat Williams

    I think people should be calling and writing to the Cornell University Library, urging them not to accept the archives, by making them aware of how much damage Cornell will be doing if they accept them. A lot of attention has been payed to the struggle between Dr. Ileana Grams-Moog and the Moog Foundation, but let us not forget that Cornell now plays a role in all this. Call or write them today.

  5. Prof. David Musial

    My heart goes out to Michelle. I too knew Bob. I was in the original archives helpong Michele in 2008. I have met Mike several times, I have been in original Moog plants and the new one. I have met Ileana. I inspired a “Student Division” for yhe BMF in 2007 and hosted 2 research grants for BMF. I helped to build content for the BMF YouTube channel conducting many video interviews with great producers and inventors, all supporting the BMF and Bob like Phil Ramone, Frank Serafine, even Eric Persing of “Spectrasonics”. I support Michelle Moog-Koussa 100% in all of her goodness.

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