John Simonton - A few memories

1976 Atlantic City, NJ at one of the first ever personal computer fairs John advised me not to buy an Apple I. He had just become the Oklahoma distributor for Apple and told me that there would be a new model, the Apple II coming soon with a keyboard and power supply included. I waited and bought one of the first Rev 0 Apple IIs as soon as they shipped. (I would like to have had that Apple I now as a museum piece, though).

1978 I built one of John's Programmable Drum machines from a PAiA kit. As far as I know, that was the first ever drum box that the user could program patterns into and store them in battery backed up RAM. I showed it to Peter Gabriel who loved the concept. Marvin Jones put together another one for Peter to keep. That became the basis for all of the electronic drums on PG#3 (Games Without Frontiers, Biko and many others). From that came the LinnDrum a few years later. Thanks John, for single-handedly changing how we make records.

Winter 1979 at Todd Rundgren's original Utopia video studio, Bearsville NY (next to Woodstock) in Bearsville Recording's building. From left, Greg Simms from Bell Labs with whom I was fooling around with digital synthesis at the time, John, Marvin Jones and Roger Powell, then a member of Todd's band Utopia. Roger was showing us what one of the first private experimental video facilities was all about.

1980 John's code for the PAiA 8700 computer called "Pink Tunes" adapted to run a Prophet 5 instead of the expected PAiA modular synthesizer was the basis for my album Computer Experiments, Volume One.

Spring 1981 on one of Johns' trips to stay with me in NJ, we collaborated on some code to make the Apple II into a SMPTE time code reader/generator. That later evolved into John's SMPL SMPTE lock based around his custom hardware and a VIC20 computer. The ability to control a MIDI sequencer locked to SMPTE using the SMPL was the basis for every MIDI sequencer synched to timecode that followed. I used John's system to record "Metropolitan Suite".

John and Linda Kay at home in Oklahoma, Fall 1982, during my visit to them during a short break in a Peter Gabriel tour. John and some of the PAiA guys later drove me to Dallas to meet up with the tour and see the show. Wild driver that he was, John got stopped for speeding and taken straight to court, fined, and still managed to get me to Texas in time for sound check.

By the time of the 1982 tour I was using John's PAiA 8700 computer keyboard with my own coded software to sequence the Moog modules in the Peter Gabriel show.