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Gershon Kingsley, Electronic Music Pioneer, Dead at 97

Composer and Moog adventurer wrote hit instrumental “Popcorn” and, with Jean-Jacques Perrey, “Baroque Hoedown”

Daniel Kreps Dec 16, 2019

Gershon Kingsley, the electronic music pioneer who wrote some of the genre’s most enduring songs, has died at the age of 97. Photo: Bettmann Archive

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Gershon Kingsley, the electronic music pioneer who wrote some of the genre’s most enduring songs, has died at the age of 97.

Kingsley’s family tweeted that the composer died December 10th. No cause of death was revealed.

“We are saddened to share that pioneering synthesist and  legendary composer Gershon Kingsley has passed away,” the Moog Foundation tweeted. “Our love, respect and condolences go out to his family and loved ones.He will be deeply missed.”

A Tony Award-nominated Broadway conductor before he started exploring the musical possibilities of the Moog synthesizer, the German-born Kingsley first recorded music alongside fellow electronic music trailblazer Jean-Jacques Perry in the duo Perrey and Kingsley. Together the two recorded the influential 1966 album The In Sound From Way Out and co-write the 1967 composition “Baroque Hoedown,” the latter becoming a staple as the soundtrack for Disneyland’s Main Street Electrical Parade. Perrey died in November 2016.

Kingsley then embarked on a solo career with 1969’s Music to Moog By, an album filled with covers of the Beatles, Beethoven and Simon & Garfunkel performed on a Moog synthesizer as well as Kingsley works like the composer’s most popular song, “Popcorn.”

Although Kingsley’s version of the track was a minor success, Hot Butter — featuring Stan Free, a member of Kingsley’s First Moog Quartet — re-recorded the track in 1972 and turned the instrumental into a surprise hit.

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In addition to his mark on electronic music, Kingsley also made a lasting impact on hip-hop, with artists like Jay-Z (“Interlude”), J Dilla (“Hambro”), Black Milk and RJD2 (“The Horror”) sampling his works.

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