Tuesday, December 15, 2020

ARP "Pete's ARP Opera" half page advertisement, Downbeat Magazine, 1975

ARP "Pete's ARP Opera" black and white advertisement from the June 5, 1975 issue of Downbeat magazine. 

I'm betting that Pete's face sold a lot of synths for ARP. 

If you were familiar with The Who... Pete Townshend... or ARP Instruments at the time, you definitely had come across this image in the media. It was everywhere - including this ARP advertisement in Downbeat. Prior to 1976 there weren't a lot of synth magazines to promote your synth products. So Rolling Stone and Downbeat were two magazines that managed to hoovered up more than a few advertising dollars from synth companies.

Let's face it, ARP loved using endorsements as a marketing tool, so when Pete sent promotional photos of himself with his ARP synths to them, it was a match made in heaven. Not sure I can call it serendipity... but it's something. 

According to ARP's own Arpeggio newsletter from April 1974, the original "outrageous self-portrait of Pete Townshend with his ARP 2600 has appeared in dozens of magazines, including Penthouse, Downbeat, Crawdaddy, Rolling Stone, Cream, and many others. Pete presented this photo to ARP about two years ago, and it has really made the rounds". 

No kidding. That quote also provides us with an estimated date the photo was taken - that issue of Arpeggio came out in April 1974... and two years earlier would have been around 1972. And that 1972 date is confirmed through other sources too.  Nice. 

And then three years later that photo showed up in this ad for ARP. That's a pretty good shelf life. 

Back in my early days, I was familiar with The Who mostly because a few of my friends considered themselves Mods during that culture blip in the 80s. It was one of those bands I listened to, but never really picked apart or dove too deep.  As a result I never really tuned into the fact that Townshend was such a synthhead. But as I got older and started hanging out in Usenet groups like rec.music.synth, I became aware just how synth-heavy the band was. Baba O'Riley. Who Are You. Won't Get Fooled Again. So many familiar songs.

I guess my point is... I want to squeeze the cheeks of this face. 

If you want to see a lot more of Pete and his synths, in particular his ARPs, check out the "The Electronic Music of Pete Townshend" page on Petetownshend.net.  Lots of great stuff there. 

Side note: the same site came out with a nice little post when Korg reissued the 2600 early in 2020 - it has some good bits about Pete and the use of the the ARP synths, including the Reverb feature video on the 2600 that came out at the time as well. Which of course includes a few of RetroSynthAd's ad and brochure scans!

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