The Fairlight CMI (Computer Musical Instrument) is a digital sampling synthesizer, designed in 1979 by the founders of Fairlight, Peter Vogel and Kim Ryrie.
The Fairlight CMI was one of the defining keyboards of the early 1980s and competed in the market with the Synclavier from New England Digital. Influential users included Peter Gabriel, Thomas Dolby, Jean Michel Jarre, Art Of Noise, Depeche Mode, Jan Hammer, Mike Oldfield and Herbie Hancock.
This series of videos tells part of the story of the amazing Fairlight CMI, and lets you see what musicians thought about Fairlights’ technology in the 80’s.
Check out Peter Vogel, above, introducing the Fairlight CMI on Australia’s ABC’s This Week, in 1980.
Above, Herbie Hancock jams with his Fairlight CMI in 1984.
In this French documentary, Peter Gabriel predicts the future of electronic music while discussing the Fairlight CMI.
In this video, the 80’s-tastic Greg Sneddon demonstrates the Fairlight CMI in 1984.
Excerpt from TV documentary about Australian venture capital industry in 1984 showing rare footage inside the Fairlight factory. Features Peter Vogel, Kim Ryrie, & Mars Lazar.
Note the change in Peter Vogel from the 1980 video above!
Is music still music when it’s played by computer?
This 1983 Today Show episode features Keith Emerson and the Fairlight CMI.
Ryuichi Sakamoto, interviewed by Jools Holland, about his Fairlight CMI.
Check out this awesome Fairlight corporate promotional video from 1985, which features Joni Mitchell and Tom Bailey of the Thompson Twins!
This video demonstrates Fairlight CMI Legacy and Supremacy, sound libraries that capture the classic sound of the Fairlight CMI.
In addition to being a promo for the sound libraries, it’s a good overview of the sounds that made the Fairlight CMI famous.
Finally, this video from 1989 captures the sad day, after Fairlight had failed, when the company’s assets were auctioned off.
If you’ve got other memories of the Fairlight, leave a comment below!