Is This The Greatest Synth Performance In The History Of Rock?

Is this the greatest synth performance in the history of rock?

This video captures a classic 1973 rock synth jam by the Edgar Winter Group, a live performance of the classic Frankenstein.

With this performance, Edgar Winter proves that he does not discriminate when it comes to face-melting solos.

First, he unleashes an epic stream of keytar-controlled synth awesomeness. Then Winter takes a break from the synths for a face-melting sax solo. Then – it’s time for a drum solo – and Winter delivers, trading riffs with the drummer.

Then it’s back to the keytar for some synth-faced shredding. Then comes an orgy of noise that transforms into an explosion of filthy filtered synth eruptions. Winter delivers the denouement by returning to the drums for the restatement of the intro.

Epic. Face-Melting.

Greatest synth performance in the history of rock, though?

Let us know what you think. And if you know of an equally epic rock synth performance, leave a link in the comments!

42 thoughts on “Is This The Greatest Synth Performance In The History Of Rock?

  1. It’s fantastic and hilarious. Completely over-the-top. See also his performance on Burt Sugarman’s Midnight Special.

    …What a dude.

  2. Actually, no it’s not. They’re just going through the motions to the studio track. Not related to the performance, but the video is out of sync with the audio, so it’s annoying to watch.

    This would be a better contender for the greatest synth performance in the history of rock. Bonus points for actually being a performance.

    1. Nope, this is definitely NOT the studio track. Percussion and sound effects are TOTALLY different. Solos do not have Echoplex, etc. SO next time you decide to rant check your (audio) facts.

  3. YES !!! I sent this in as a submission a couple of months ago. To the above mentioned post that the audio and video are out of sync….I believe there is more than one cut of this video where the sync is better. Either way….it is a live cut.

    Completely captures the vibe of that age and his showmanship. Classic !

  4. I asked my daughter (age:13) to watch this. She didn’t like it. When it was finished she said three things:
    1. Why did they all have such long hair?
    2. Were they all on drugs at that time?
    3. Didn’t they spin/scratch turntables then?
    … ??? … ??? … ??? …

      1. Reading comments like that makes me want to grow my ponytail back…if I could. 🙂
        And scratch a few David Cassidy records. But I could only find an 8 Track copy.

        1. I suspect I might be able to still generate a ponytail, but since everything else would be bald, I’m not sure of how it would look…

          Ah, for the days when I could do a credible afro!

  5. This is synthtopias greatness , the reason why I daily visit despite mentions of skrillexes and dead mice

    Damned inspiring classic musical moments that inspire, ones I’d never have found myself

  6. That guitarist, Rick Derringer, was in a band called The McCoys as a teen. He wrote and sang Hang on Sloopy and went on to considerable solo success.

    The bass player, Dan Hartman, also had some solo success in the late 70s/ early 80s. You may have heard his hit I Can Dream.

    Chuck Ruff was great drummer. I wonder what became of him?

    1. Beat the clock is another showing of musical muscle of Derringer. Its finnish version Hetki Lyö is super classic that every one knows in Finland.

  7. I watched it again, despite the funny aspect ( style of the day ), this is a great performance

    Way better than watching some Dj who thinks he’s cool nod his head once in a while

    Electronica needs to watch vids like this to see what actually looks good on stage- I.e movement, playing stuff live, improvise if needed…

    Er…bring the human element into it and not merely hide behind machines or dex

      1. Let’s not lump all electronic artists into the “press play” category. There are lots of artists out there pushing the envelope of what it means to perform with technology – and we can all agree that’s quite a challenge. Yes, perhaps it’s easier to connect with a performer’s visceral energy as they jump around on stage, but please don’t discredit the hard work of many electronic artists working in a relatively new field. As another person noted, it really is like comparing apples and oranges.

        Rather than wasting time on this tired debate, let’s all enjoy what each of these forms of expression have to offer.

    1. I totally agree – a rock performance like this, with physicality, fun, interplay, spontaneity, virtuosity, etc. etc. – beat all HAIL outta skrillexes, dead mice, aphex twins and chemistry set bros. Of course we are comparing apples and oranges, with the only common link being electronic instruments. Winter is essentially at the avante-garde of Southern Rock & Boogie.
      Right now the vogue is in production and control, because that is where the emphasis in design is happening. But players want performance synths in order to be virsuosically spontaneous, as WInter shows here. The cycle will come around again to another phase where ‘cool’ is out and ‘hot’ is back.

      1. No no…I saw this DJ one time, he flipped his hand over after twisting a knob, then pulling his hand up slowly making a loose looked like turning that bass cut knob was a spritual experience and Parist Hilton has lovely blond hair too and certainly looks better in girl pants and tops than those skinny boys.

  8. complete awesomeness! and completely over the top but what the heck, if Jimi could do it with guitar Edgar could do it with the synth. all that’s missing is the lighter fluid.
    maybe not the greatest synth performance but it sure was some epic musicianship.

    1. ” … completely over the top but what the heck, if Jimi could do it with guitar Edgar could do it with the synth. all that’s missing is the lighter fluid.”

      Keith Emerson once said that Jimi Hendrix was running 8mm movies of his organ-stabbing act, going backwards and forwards, cackling over it. They reportedly hit it off and talked about possibly playing together, but it never materialized. If it had, a lot of people would still be wearing HELP t-shirts.

  9. Soulless white boy wankery, oh sure it looks like they’re having fun but each and every note is a piece of their own death, digging a hole with no way out (save for the inevitable Phish cover). No wonder Edgar went all Scientology after this came out, life must have seemed lacking meaning. Lol I’m half kidding, but put it all in perspective, Marley & the Wailers’ ‘Catch a Fire’ came out around the same time, and to me ‘Rabbit’ Bundrick’s synth work on that album is way ahead of its time, full if feeling as well as much groovier and more just my cup of tea 🙂

    1. Winter brothers are miraclously soulful exeptions among white musicians, they are of natural springs of musicality; they express them selves as fluently with their instruments as other people speak. This performance is not the soulfullest performance as its trained number for television(rather exeptional for Winter brothers), but both Winters are extremely creative improvisators; extremely able to find nice, surprising references to their roots (and not just relying in extremely trained robotics, like novadays musicians), and new fantastically cool licks and short melodies all the time, both with their instruments and singing voices, and often at the same time. I especially like Johnnys risk taking, that often leads to acceptable, slight timing issues(after the nerve breaking drug abuse in AND -era, before drugs he was really sharp improvisator), but he changes all that to thoughtful playing and searching for really juicy stuff.

  10. This is the sort of stuff I love; musicians actually playing instruments. IMO, too much of modern music (and electronic music in particular) relies on quantization, clicking notes into a grid, auto tune, studio tricks. I’d rather hear a musician actually playing (with all the human defects); the whole band is amazing. For best synth jam ever, I’d probably have to go with Parliament’s Flashlight, but Edgar Winter is absolutely up there.

  11. Wow… I saw them on this tour in 1973 in Spartanburg SC. I think it was the first time I actually saw a synthesizer played live. It was a very influential moment in my life… one that would lead later to doing printed circuit design for Bob Moog and a stint as marketing manager of Moog Music. As the twig is bent, so the tree does lean.

    Take your kids to see some music today.

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