The music world was rocked to hear of the passing of synth hero Dave Smith.
For many, in the beginning, there was GOD. He created Earth, light and all things. But he left the job of creating synths and MIDI to Dave Smith. Such is the godlike status of the Sequential pioneer, his passing, largely unexpected, has been deeply felt.
Dave Smith, who passed away June 1st 2022, lives in the top echelons of American synthesizer pioneers. His company, Sequential Circuits, founded in 1974 created a revolution with the Prophet 5. It has been emulated several times, notably by Arturia, indicating its overwhelming importance to electronic music. It was also the first synth to feature the ability to program a polyphonic synth thus changing functionality for good.
The Prophet 5 alone would be enough to register someone in the hall of fame for designers. However, Dave Smith’s career transcended further. A huge array of other influential synths and drum machines was to come.
The Californian native was a major player in the development of the original MIDI spec announced at NAMM in 1981. In 1982, the Sequential Circuits Prophet-600 was released; the first instrument with MIDI. 31 years later, in 2013, Ikutaro Kakehashi of Roland and Dave Smith were awarded a Technical Grammy for the invention of MIDI.
He sits alongside the likes of Bog Moog, Tom Oberheim and Don Buchla in terms of importance. It’s not so widely known that he was also deeply involved with developing Korg’s Wavestation, another smash hit synth that shaped our world, particularly in the 90s when electronic music blossomed.
As recently as last month, Dave Smith had teamed up with his long term cohort, Tom Oberheim (now firmly in his 80s) to release the lauded Oberheim OB-X8. For many, it’s too sad to consider this as his parting gift to the community.
Paying tribute to Smith, Focusrite CEO (who acquired Dave Smiths Instruments in 2021) Tim Carroll said: “Dave’s passing is a great loss to not only the music community and music technology, but to the world itself. To say that he changed music is no exaggeration. Dave’s legacy is one of creative passion and a deep and lifelong love for music, music technology, and the musicians that continue to enrich our world by using his instruments.
If you have memories or just wish to leave a tribute, Sequential is suggesting to email them at RememberingDave@Sequential.com.
Read our interview with Dave Smith from 2014.