Thursday, January 17, 2019

Akai "Michael Jackson Band - Great musicians use great equipment" ad, Electronic Musician 1989

Akai "Michael Jackson Band - Great musicians use great equipment" full page colour advertisement from page 59 in the March 1989 issue of Electronic Musician.

Coincidences are great. I started blogging about the Akai MPC60 back in November and had planned to push out this next ad on Friday. And then Akai suddenly announces their latest extension of the MPC line - the Akai Force. Reverb is a nice Pre-NAMM starting point to learn more about it.

BBoy Tech Report also has a nice intro on the machine. And, just by coincidence, the BBoy site also has a connection to this advertisement. But more on that in a second.

I gotta hand it to Electronic Musician - sometimes they pulled in some great advertising that never made it into Keyboard Magazine. This appears to be one of those ads. And the ad looks to have appeared only once as far as I can tell - in this EM March 1989 issue - making it even rarer.

This artist-endorsement ad compresses one heck of a lot of talent into one 8x11 inch page...

On the left is Ricky Lawson, drummer and Grammy winner, who played and recorded with some of the hottest hit makers including Whitney Houston, Lionel Richie, Eric Clapton, Quincy Jones and Anita Baker. He passed away in December 2013 and there's a nice little write-up on the Modern Drummer Web site. Check out his Wikipedia page it's a who's-who of amazing artists.

On the right, leaning on the 7000, is keyboardist Greg Phillinganes. His Wikipedia page is as jammed packed as Ricky's with some amazing references including touring and recording with the Bee Gees, Donna Summer, Karen Carpenter, Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, Richard Marx, Paul McCartney, Al Jarreau, Quincy Jones, and Stevie Nicks.

And last but not least, on the far right is Rory Kaplan. Google him and one of top links to come up is his LinkIn page, listing his current position as Executive Producer/Artist Relations with Auro Technologies. And looking back at his post-musician career includes four years in the role of Artist Relations with Intel and Microsoft. Rory is in desperate need of a Wikipedia page. Just saying.

Now - back to coincidences. One of my favourite parts of researching and writing this blog is when I find connections between advertisements and interviews or other historical events. And this ad has a great connection.

If you recall my blog post for Keyboard's first MPC60 advertisement, I linked to a 2013 bboytechreport interview with Akai marketing manager at the time, Mike McRoberts. In that interview, Mike looked back at some of his most memorable moments with Akai and one of them includes this 'lil nugget:
" the January 1988 NAMM Show in Anaheim, I was approached by three members of Michael Jackson’s band touring for the BAD album. They explained their touring schedule, which basically was one week in each city. They had some free time every week and asked if they could do a clinic in each city for Akai. I couldn’t say “No” to that, since this was the biggest tour on earth at the time. So, every week I flew to a different city and Ricky Lawson, drummer, Greg Philliganes and Rory Kaplan, keyboard players did a clinic. I was the master of ceremonies, and these guys came up with the whole clinic format."

We now take YouTube for granted, but I can only imagine how cool it would have been to have attended one of those clinics.

More MPC stuff to come!

Friday, December 21, 2018

Alesis HR16 and MMT-8 "Yes there is a Santa Claus" ad, Keyboard 1987

Alesis HR16 drum machine and MMT-8 sequencer "Yes there is a Santa Clause" full page colour advertisement from page 19 in the November 1987 issue of  Keyboard Magazine.

Surprisingly, very few companies take advantage of the season to customize their marketing message during the holidays. It makes sense since it requires extra time and money to produce an ad that will only get used for one or two months max. But I've come across a few holiday ads that took the chance and made it happen.

Sequential Circuits kept it simple in their black and white quarter-page holiday advertisement that ran in the December 1985 issue. Sequential made the decision to split their marketing dollars into two quarter page ads on two different pages so that they could keep their holiday message totally separate. Nice work.

Oberheim took it a big step further in their full page colour ad in the same December 1985 issue when they took out a full page colour product-oriented ad on the back-inside cover. It's definitely Santa/Christmas themed, but its not a message to readers. It's a full on product-oriented ad.

But Alesis...  they took it one step further.

It's not just a "Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday" message like Sequential's ad.

And it's not a holiday product ad like Oberheim's.

This advertisement is actually THE LAUNCH of the HR16 drum machine and MMT-8 sequencer. Alesis took advantage of the timing of these two pieces of gear to create a holiday season product launch.

Surprisingly, they kept the ad pretty bland. Ad title. Announcement copy. Two photos with some specs. And a holiday message. With some red and green font colours to make it a bit more festive.

But bland or not, those machines were definitely a Christmas miracle. And even more of a Christmas miracle... this is MY FIRST Alesis ad. Don't worry - more to come.   :)

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!

Monday, December 3, 2018

Akai / Roger Linn MPC60 "MIDI Production Center" brochure, 1988

Akai / Roger Linn MPC60 "MIDI Production Center" four page colour brochure from 1988.

As I mentioned in my previous post on the first MPC60 advertisement, I wanted to make sure I covered off the 30th anniversary of the MPC60 before the end of 2018! And that definitely includes this lovely brochure.

Now, before I say anything else, I just have to first point out that this is one of the classiest gear brochures of its time period.


The paper this brochure is printed on is thick and creamy - like a milkshake! I've seen business cards printed on much thinner paper.


And its like I can still smell the high quality ink of the printing press from which this thing flew out of.


And those two logos on the cover!


If I have one small grip about the design of this ad, its probably the small font used on the inside cover page. But then again, there's a lot to be said when you pretty much create a whole new market category - drum machine/sampler/MIDI sequencer (dare I say groovebox?).

Can't read the text? Right-click on the image and open in a new tab. Then magnify to 100%. OR however you do that in your browser.

Read that whole page and I'm sure you will agree.

Yeah yeah... sure, sure... there were a few other tools that came before it that could sample, make beats or whatever. But this thing really brought it all together in a fun and intuitive format.

Point being - and there's no getting around it - if you were at a trade show or in your local music store and the person behind the counter handed you this brochure, you would immediately sense it was something special.

But that cover would only hint at what was exactly on offer, tempting you to flip the page.


And when the victim person opened the brochure and received what amounts to a prefrontal cortex brain-punch by that high quality photo of the MPC60 on the inside, anyone would be hard-pressed not to figure out a way to get the five grand required to take this machine home.

LinnDrum MIDIstudio
Beg. Steal. Borrow. Whatever.
Linn9000 (1985)

Now, a lot of people try to say the MPC60 is a direct descendant of Linn Electronics'  Linn 9000 that came out in 1985. The Keyboard Spec Sheet said as much in my previous post. But in my view, it was the 1986 advertised-but-never-released LinnDrum Midistudio that is the real baby daddy.

And I'm willing, along with a few others, to die on that hill.

The history of the MPC60, the circumstances around Roger Linn's partnership with Akai, and many other interesting nuggets of knowledge can be found all around the Web with a simple Google search.

So to get you started, here's Red Bull Academy's November 2017 article by Lance Scott Walker includes some great history and quotes from Roger Linn as well as many famous users of the MPC60.

Another recent article written by Alexander Acimen for VOX celebrating the 30th anniversary of the machine is also a nice read.

There's tons more. Just Google.

I can't do all the work for ya - I have another MPC60 advertisement to scan.


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Akai / Roger Linn MPC60 "A MIDI Production Studio in a Box" ad, Keyboard 1988

Akai / Roger Linn MPC60 "A MIDI Production Studio in a Box" colour advertisement from page 132 in the February 1988 issue of Keyboard Magazine.

Well, we've almost come to the end of 2018, and I wanted to make sure I covered off a few more things before we say hello to 2019. And one of those things is the 30th anniversary of the MPC60.

Although it was much earlier in 2018 that the 30th anniversary technically took place, I got lazy. Not uncommon. But I am a little ashamed it took me this long.

In my defense, even if I had posted this earlier in in 2018, it was actually a tad longer than 30 years ago that we first got a whiff of this iconic machine. So technically speaking the timeline is blurry anyways - or at least that's what I'm going to keep telling myself.  :)

Now, when I say it was tad longer, I'm talking six or seven months at least.

In fact, it was Summer NAMM in June 1987 that it was first introduced to the masses under it's original name, the ADR15 Drum Machine/Sequencer, along with its little brother, the ASQ-10 Sequencer.

Unfortunately I wasn't there (along with many others) to witness this event. But, it would only be a short three more months when readers of Keyboard could find the ADR15 info gleaned from Summer NAMM in the Spec Sheet section of the September 1987 issue.
"Akai and drum machine pioneer Roger Linn have joined forces to produce the ADR15 Drum Machine/Sequencer and the ASQ10 Sequencer. The ADR15 is both a sampling drum machine and a MIDI sequencer. It features a 320 character LCD, and up to 26 seconds of 120-bit sampling at 40kHz with 18 kHz bandwidth. Samples can be loaded and dumped via MIDI. The unit, which has 16 velocity sensitive pads, is 16 voice polyphonic, and 32 drum sounds can be in memory at a time. Ambience and other effects can be added to the drum sounds. The ADR15's sequencer section and the ASQ10 Sequencer share the same specs. Both sequencers record 60,000 notes in up to 99 sequencers of up to 99 tracks. Sequences can be chained together into 20 songs of 256 steps each. The units sync to MIDI song position pointer, FSK, a quarter-note metronome, or SMPTE, and feature two MIDI ins and four MIDI outs. ADR15: $4,999.95. ASQ10: $2,499.95."
And when Keyboard finally came out with there annual Summer NAMM article in the November 1987 issue, it was again given a good deal of real estate in print.  Although there was a lot of duplicate info between the Spec Sheet info and the NAMM article info, there was some new info too. Readers learned that it was a redesigning of the Linn 9000 drum machine/sequencer/sampler. We also learned of the context-sensitive help feature, and that the sequencer included a "variety of editing, quantization, looping, and punch-in/out options" and that "changes in tempo and drum mix, panning, and tuning can be programmed into sequences".


Now, I have to say I originally freaked out when I found out the original name of the MPC60 was the ADR15. I had never about heard this! And I was excited to break the news to everybody on the Internet...

Until I Googled it.


If you follow the link above, you will find what MATRIXSYNTH rightly refers to in 2014 as "a fascinating bit of synth history". From there you will find a nice synopsis of the history of the ADR15/MPC60 name and a link to a January 2013 interview with Mike McRoberts, Akai's product manager for the U.S during the MPC heydays. A fascinating read!

That MATRIXSYNTH page also includes a photo of an ADR15 prototype, which unlike the MPC60, had a fixed LCD display and a foam rubber arm rest.

I love prototypes!

Anyways, Akai finally launched the MPC60 in Keyboard Magazine in February 1988 with this advertisement, which would only run one more time in the following month. And then the ad was gone, replaced with a X7000 sampler ad.

And this ad only seemed to appear once in Electronic Musician in the May 1988 issue.

Akai would wait an astonishing 21 months before advertising the MPC again in Keyboard Magazine.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Casio KX-101 "16-pound recording studio" ad, Playboy Magazine, 1984

Casio KX-101 computerized audio system "16-pound recording studio" ad from page 159 in the May 1984 issue of Playboy Magazine.


From the first time I stumbled across a heavily compressed, low res scan of this ad I just knew I had to have the real thing!  And surprisingly, it didn't take long for one to pop up.  It was a while ago - BSPC (Before Synth Price Craziness) - so I think I paid about $200 for mine. But it started me down the path to track other similarly unique machines down. Like the CK-200, CK-500 and others.

I always wondered where this ad came from, and I had always thought I would eventually come across it in my synth/gear magazine collection. But it had now been over 30 years since I'd been reading and collection music magazines, and almost 10 YEARS of blogging about synth ads, and still I just never recalled coming across it. What the heck?!?!

The seemingly exponentially increased occurrence of this ad on Facebook and Twitter finally peaked my curiosity enough to do a bit of active investigation. In other words I took to Google to quickly track down the origin of this advertisement. Or at least, one origin.

Playboy. 1984.  Didn't expect that.

I still needed more details - month and page, so I tried to Google for an online PDF, but all the downloads really looked sketchy. Like... REALLY SKETCHY.  So I eventually got up the nerve to order a one month online subscription to the Playboy archives. 

Page by page, I started looking through issues from 1984.

Good lord. There really is a lot of articles. And ads!

But I finally found it on page 159 of the May 1984 issue.

I have a "thing" about not using scans I find on the Web - so next was to track down a hard copy. Didn't take long, but was surprised how much I had to struggle through all that teen-age angst and guilt from my past that came flooding back in order to convince myself it was okay.

And sure enough, among the ads for cars, VHS cassette tapes, car radios, electric typewriters, film cameras, cigarettes, booze... and more booze... and more booze...

There it was!

It's a gorgeous advertisement with a large close-up photo of the KX-101 with the obligatory hands on the keys, with an inset photo of the machine in full - with the speakers attached. Ad copy does a great job of communicating to what I'd guess is a monthly non-gear-head audience. And I learned a thing or two too!  Including that fact that you can store your programmed chords, melodies and accompaniments onto cassette tape to be dumped back to the machine later. Data! Not audio (although it does audio too).

"Where miracles never cease". Damn right!

You can find lots of information online on the KX-101, including the well-maintained MATRIXSYNTH site with lots of photos and video from various Web pages and eBay auctions.

And if you want to view a comprehensive video including getting a peak at the inside of the unit, check out this YouTube video:

I'm always fascinated by old advertisements - of all types - and made me curious about what I would find. So I expanded my online browsing of the archives to other issues from the 70s and 80s. A few cool technology ads, but only a few keyboard/synth ones. Another Casio keyboard ad did pop up eventually.

I'm probably the first person to say I wasn't reading Playboy for the articles... but for the ads.

But there were some interesting articles as well. For example, it looks like the magazine had a yearly poll for readers to vote for their favourite musicians (including keyboard players).

Even more interestingly, in the April 1984 issue, Playboy gave their Technology award "to past MIT technodarling Raymond Kurzweil, for his Kurzweil 250  keyboard synthesizer, revolutionizing synth rock by not only creating a vast catalog of weird effects but actually sounding like real musical instruments when it attempts to mimic them." Nice.

And, of course, I had to track down the Wendy Carlos interview  - "a candid conversation with the "switched-on bach" composer who, for the first time, reveals her sex-change operation and secret life as a women." Great article about an amazing human being.

End note: If anyone knows of any other magazines that included this ad, please let me know!