Roland Alpha JUNO 1 & 2 "Flash Boards" full colour advertisement from the inside front cover of the July 1986 issue of The Music Technology Magazine (U.S. edition).
There are just so many reasons to love this ad, and the first is that this ad is from 1986. Let's face it, the 80s were a kick-ass time to be into synthesizers (as well as the growing MIDI music software industry). And with kick-ass time periods come kick-ass advertising art.
It just so happens that the 80s was also a time when affordable computers started popping up everywhere - in the office, at home and in the studio. More than a few commercial artists decided to try their hand at this medium called "computer art".
All that said - I can't even begin to speculate what the imagery in this advertisement is supposed to be. Except for many that face in the bottom right-hand corner. Yeah, I think that's a face.
But I know what the result is:
1. Awesome advertising art.
2. Awesome 80s advertising art.
3. Awesome 80s COMPUTER advertising art.
Another reason to love this ad is that it showed up in the "inaugural" issue of "The Music Technology Magazine". According to the editorial on page 3, the reason the magazine launched in 1986 was because they "felt there was no publication adequately catering for the needs of America's modern musicians". Apparently it was time for one.
Now, some of you readers from across the pond may be wondering - what are you talking about, that magazine has been around for years?!?! Well, they are related.
According to the "History" page of the Recording Magazine Web site, founders of the American version of the magazine were already well-established in the UK:
"In 1986, Music Maker Publications, Inc. (MMP) was formed to launch Music Technology magazine in the United States.The rest of the page is quite an interesting read too, including many different music magazines you are probably familiar with.
Founders Terry Day and Dennis Hill had already established a successful publishing operation in the United Kingdom, which published several music magazine titles including Music Technology and Home & Studio Recording. Their idea was to establish a company in the United States that would mirror their publishing operation in England.
Partnered with a U.S. based management team, Terry and Dennis launched Music Technology magazine from their new corporate offices in Canoga Park, California and the timing was just right. In the days when MIDI and digital technology were being developed and refined, Music Technology rapidly gained a devoted readership, passionate about their music and hungry for news and information about the evolving technologies in the audio industry."
I couldn't find a publication date in that inaugural issue. It just has a copyright date of 1986. I had to go to the second issue, dated September 1986 to get more info. In the editorial that appears on page 2 of that second issue (Tony Banks from Genesis appears on that cover), it states that "it's nearly two months now since we launched Music Technology with our inaugural issue...". Bam! That's reason enough to give the inaugural issue a July 1986 date for publication purposes.
Anyways - where was I...? Oh yeah - this was the first issue of the American version of TMTM. So, who better to show up on the cover? Peter Gabriel, that's who. No surprise to find him sitting there beside an Emulator.
Even more interesting is who else the magazine decided to interview in this first issue.
You may have already read the name on the cover image to the right - Douglas Adams! If you don't recognize the name, duck, because I'm about to punch you in the neck. Second, if you don't recognize the name, maybe the title of the article will help jog your memory:
"The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Macintosh".
And for anyone else still in the dark - here's the Wikipedia link.
According to the opening paragraph, Douglas Adams was not only an author, but also a musician with an interest in music technology. Enough of an interest that article writer Matthew Vosburgh refers to Douglas as an "expert on the Apple Macintosh computer and its associated software".
Well, waddaya know!
I will forgive Matthew for probably thinking he is the biggest Douglas Adams fan ever born. Many people around the world make this mistake simply because they haven't met me yet. So to hear that Douglas Adams was also a synth-nut?!?! My head nearly exploded. Point being that when I first came across this issue some time ago, I actually ignored all the synthesizer and MIDI software advertisements to flip directly to the article.
Matthew's article is a fantastic, funny and entertaining read that gives us quite a few juicy tidbits of synthy knowledge. For example, Douglas Adam first used music software for the Mac called Concertwave Plus. Oddly I don't think I'm the first person in the world to punch that in to Google - but all that came up was cracked software sites. Moving on...
Reading the article, we soon find out that some of the first synths Douglas Adams looked at were the Casio CZ3000 and 5000 on account of them both being multi-timbral. But after listening to a Yamaha DX7, he ended up walking out of the store with a TX-7 module and a Korg DW8000. And what good are MIDI synths without MIDI software? It was then that he decided to get Mark of the Unicorn Performer software.
And well, I think many of us can relate to what happened next. He got GAS (look it up...).
According to the article, he picked up THREE more TX7s, A Korg EX800 and a Yamaha RX15 drum machine played through a Roland Octopad (although he regrets not going with the RX11 with its better MIDI implementation). Everything was wired through a Seck mixer and into a Fostex 260 four-track recorder.
Later, Douglas Adams also checked out the Emulator II, Kurzweil, and Fairlight, but opted for a Mirage sampler instead. As luck would have it, the Mirage never came in, and he "wandered off" with the Emulator. That happened to me when a Kawai K1 didn't show up at my local music store and I ended up walking out with three more expensive synths, a drum machine and a sequencer. I kid... kinda.
The behind-the-scenes stories and anecdotes are amazing to read - more so 28 years later. If you can find a copy on eBay, definitely pick it up. Buy two like I did because you will want one copy by your bedside at all times because chances are your Fruitloops and milk are going to spill onto it.
What? No... that has never happened to me. :)