Albert GlinskyJan 7, 2023
Bob Moog and the Synthesizer Revolution
Oxford University Press 2022
The Moog synthesizer ‘bent the course of music forever’ Rolling Stone declared.
Bob Moog, the man who did that bending, was a lovable geek with Einstein hair and pocket protectors. He walked into history in 1964 when his homemade contraption unexpectedly became a sensation---suddenly everyone wanted a Moog. The Beatles, The Doors, The Byrds, and Stevie Wonder discovered his synthesizer, and it came to be featured in seminal film scores including Apocalypse Now and A Clockwork Orange. The Moog's game-changing sounds saturated 60's counterculture and burst into the disco party in the 70's to set off the electronic dance music movement. Bob had singlehandedly founded the synth industry and become a star in the process.
But he was also going broke. Imitators copied his technology, the musicians' union accused him of replacing live players, and Japanese competitors started overtaking his work. He struggled to hang on to his inventions, his business, and his very name. Bob's story upends our notions of success and wealth, showing that the two don't always go together.
In Switched On: Bob Moog and the Synthesizer Revolution (Oxford UP, 2022), author Albert Glinsky draws on exclusive access to Bob Moog's personal archives and his probing interviews with Bob's family and a multitude of associates, for this first complete biography of the man and his work. Switched On takes the reader on a roller coaster ride at turns triumphant, heart-breaking, and frequently laugh out loud absurd---a nuanced trip through the public and private worlds of this legendary inventor who altered the course of music.
Nathan Smith is a PhD Student in Music Theory at Yale University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.