Synthesist Dana Countryman has published a new biography of happy synthesizer music pioneer Jean-Jacques Perrey.
This book chronicles Perrey’s musical transformation from being just another young accordion player in France, to eventually becoming a pioneer of electronic pop music. By chance, as a young man, Perrey came upon a new French-invented electronic keyboard instrument called the “Ondioline,” and soon he became its chief salesperson. While demonstrating the instrument all over Europe, in the late 1950s, he was discovered by legendary French chanteuse Edith Piaf. She became Perrey’s mentor, and arranged for Perrey to travel to America, where he quickly became a musical innovator at the forefront of the synthesizer revolution. (Perrey was the second musician to own and record with a Moog synthesizer.)
In the ’60s, Perrey also recorded four albums for Vanguard Records, which are now considered electronic pop masterpieces. With their whimsical electronic sounds and catchy melodies, Perrey’s albums still stand the test of time, unlike other “Moog” albums of the same period. His musical playfulness and most of all, his sense of humor make Perrey’s music both clever and memorable.
Long before computers and digital technology, Perrey devised an ingenious method of “sampling,” using recording tape. When Perrey recorded “Flight of the Bumblebee,” he didn’t just do it the usual way. His version was created by recording the sounds of REAL bumblebees in a hive to create the frenetic classical theme! Using nothing but a simple razor blade, Scotch tape, and unbelievable patience, Perrey cut the recorded bee sounds into hundreds of tiny pieces. He then hand-spliced each bit of tape into a carefully-planned sequence, with the classic melody being “sung” by hundreds of buzzing bees! This feat took over 72 hours for Perrey to assemble just the melody line. The effect was (and still is) astonishing.
“Passport to the Future” documents Perrey’s life, and tells about his musical adventures, including rubbing shoulders with famous artists, such as Salvador Dali, Les Paul, Walt Disney, Alfred Hitchcock and many more.
Young people of today revere Perrey as a true musical pioneer and innovator. “Passport to the Future” preserves Perrey’s life as a true visionary, who at age 82, is still creating and performing his unique blend of electronic and happy, quirky melodies.
“Passport to the Future” documents Perrey’s life, and explains how he created his unique recordings. Scores of musicians who worked with Perrey are interviewed, including Angelo Badalamenti, Robert Moog, Gershon Kingsley, Dick Hyman, Vinnie Bell, Walter Sear, and many more.
“This has been a seven-year project,” notes Countryman. “It feels so good to finally have my book completed, and out for sale! ”
Passport To The Future: The Amazing Life and Music of Electronic Pop Music Pioneer Jean-Jacques Perrey retails for $19.95.