Saturday, February 9, 2013

Paul Tanner (1917–2013)

From the New York Times:

Paul Tanner, a former trombonist for the Glenn Miller Ochestra who played an unlikely role in the history of rock ’n’ roll when, using a device he helped invent, he performed the famous electronic accompaniment on the Beach Boys’ signature recording “Good Vibrations,” died on Tuesday in Carlsbad, Calif.
The Beach Boys’ Mike Love called that device, the Electro-Theremin, a “woo-woo machine.” But it is better known as the Tannerin.

Correction, thanks to Andrew Hickey: Mike Love played a synthesizer, not a Tannerin.

[Mike Love at Michigan State University, October 26, 1966: “Hey man, they expect me to play this woo-woo machine.”]

comments: 3

Andrew Hickey said...

Actually, and this is enormous pedantry, but what Love was playing there was a prototype Moog ribbon-controlled synth, rather than an electro-theremin. It was actually something specially invented by the Moog company so the Beach Boys could replicate the Good Vibrations part, but it was such an interesting way of controlling it that the ability to control the instrument that way was later incorporated into proper (what we now think of as) Moogs when they started being made.

Tanner was actually asked to tour with the Beach Boys just to play that one song live, but turned them down.

Michael Leddy said...

Thanks for the correction, Andrew. I thought that they were one and the same.

Andrew Hickey said...

No, similar, but different.
Though of course, Probyn Gregory *does* play an electro-theremin in Brian Wilson's backing band, and in the band that backed the Beach Boys last year.