“My favorite keyboard of all time will always be the Minimoog,” Rick Wakeman says in an extended version of a scene that will appear in Electronic Voyager, an upcoming doc on the life of legendary synth inventor Robert Moog. “I couldn’t live without one.”
In the film, Moog’s daughter, Michelle Moog-Koussa, retraces the footstep of her father from his birthplace in Queens, New York, to his eventual home of Asheville, North Carolina. Along the way, she meets with various prominent musicians who have used Moog synths in their work, including Gary Numan, Jean-Michel Jarre and Wakeman, best known for his many tenures in Yes.
In this clip, Moog-Koussa visits Wakeman in Norfolk, England, at a building where he stores all his gear, including his collection of Minimoogs that he’s used over the years. “Welcome to my store,” the keyboardist says, welcoming Moog-Koussa inside. “See the mess in there? … We know where most things are.”
He tells his guest that he has nine Minimoogs. He got the first one from actor Jack Wild, who gave it up because he wrongly thought the monophonic instrument was broken since it couldn’t play more than one note at a time. Then, around the time Yes became successful in the early Seventies, Wakeman began building up his collection. “The Fragile album was a massive hit, so I bought two more, and then — like some people collect stamps and some people collect cars — I collect Minimoogs,” he says.
He goes on to talk about how the Minimoog revolutionized the role of the keyboard in rock music. “For years and years and years, the poor old keyboard player suffered … and then your dad invented and developed the Moog, which had a sound that would cut through concrete,” Wakeman tells Moog-Koussa. “And guitarists hated it, because suddenly you could be louder than them if you wanted to be. … So the greatest thing that Bob gave to keyboard players is the chance to truly express yourselves, because there’s no point in expressing yourself if you can’t be heard.”
Popular on Rolling Stone
Wakeman also reflects on how unassuming Moog was as a person. “I really do think he was very surprised at his own success,” he says. “People would want to have their picture taken with him and he didn’t quite get that. … He didn’t quite get that he was a bit of an icon.”
The release of the Wakeman clip coincides with an Indiegogo fundraising campaign for the doc’s final stages that’s currently in progress. (An earlier fundraiser for the film met its goal on Kickstarter in 2016.) In addition to copies of the film in various formats — along with copies of I Dream of Wires, a prior modular synth doc by Waveshaper Media, the team behind Electronic Voyager — backers can also reserve copies of Electronic Voyages: Early Moog Recordings 1964-1969, a new limited-edition LP compilation that’s exclusive to the campaign. The campaign is live through May 30th, and the film is scheduled for release in 2020.