RIP Alan Pearlman, synth pioneer

Alan R. Pearlman spent a chunk of the 60s designing amplifiers used in the Gemini and Apollo space programs. But what he really wanted to do was get into music.

Pearlman’s grandfather was in the music hardware business decades earlier, constructing parts for the newfangled phonographs. His father designed movie theatre projects. As a kid, Pearlman built his own radio sets.

In 1969, the space program contracts finished, Pearlman took $100,000–a sizeable amount of money back in the day–and started building synthesizers.

Pearlman’s gear–ARP synths, a name created from his initials–was never quite as popular as Bob Moog’s keyboards, but they had their fans. The ARP 2600 was genuinely groundbreaking. Elton John was a user. So was David Bowie and Stevie Wonder.

ARP was in business from 1971 until 1982. Today these machines are highly collectible.

Pearlman died at age 93 back on January 6. (With files from FYI Music News)

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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