Composer & Synthpop Pioneer Gershon Kingsley Dead At 97

Gershon Kingsley

Composer & synthpop pioneer Gershon Kingsley has died at the age of 97.

Kingsley (October 28, 1922 – December 10, 2019) is best known for his happy synth pop composition Pop Corn. But he had a long and varied career, including keyboard performance, conducting, arranging for musicals and even scoring the slasher film Silent Night, Bloody Night.

Kingsley was an early adopter of the Moog synthesizer and incorporated electronic sounds into much of his work. In the mid-sixties, he collaborated with Jean-Jacques Perrey on the quirky album The In Sound from Way Out!. Their second collaboration, Kaleidoscopic Vibrations: Electronic Pop Music From Way Out, and featured the composition Baroque Hoedown, which was featured for years as part of Disney’s Main Street Electrical Parade.

His ’69 album Music to Moog By featured the track Pop Corn, in a year when the top song was The ArchiesSugar, Sugar:

‘Pop’ is for pop music,” Kingsley explained, “and ‘Corn’ is for kitsch.”

The song was covered by Stan Free, who had performed with Kingsley as part of the First Moog Quartet. Free released his version of the song as ‘Popcorn‘ by Hot Butter.

The Hot Butter take on Popcorn became a worldwide hit, becoming one of the top songs of 1972.

Here’s Kingsley doing a solo piano version of Pop Corn in 2007:

Kingsley also did the WGBH Theme, an earworm of futuristic station identification:

Kingsley is featured in a 2005 oral history video at the NAMM site, and in a series of biographic videos on Youtube.

Above, Gershon (right) with Bob Moog in 1970.

A recent photo of Gershon Kingsley

Waveshaper Media shared a recent photograph, right, from their interview with him for the upcoming film Electronic Voyager.

“We are saddened to share that legendary composer and pioneering synthesist Gershon Kingsley passed away on Wednesday,” said Bob Moog Foundation Executive Director Michelle Moog-Koussa. “An extraordinary man, an extraordinary life.”

3 thoughts on “Composer & Synthpop Pioneer Gershon Kingsley Dead At 97

  1. I’ve always loved that WGBH theme bit. It’s really a great bit. And I’ve always loved that Popcorn song. Seeing him play it on piano is pretty cool. The chords and progressions and the way he plays it are awesome. Beautiful piece of music.

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