One way for EMEAPP to advance its mission is to offer assistance and encouragement to others who share our goals. So, we’re proud to have played a role in the birth of a big, beautiful new book about vintage keyboards: Classic Keys: Keyboard Sounds That Launched Rock Music, by Alan Lenhoff and David Robertson. You can learn about this book here: ClassicKeysBook.com.
This is the keepsake book many of us have dreamed about: A beautifully photographed and authoritative book that celebrates the great rock keyboards of the 1950s through the early 1980s: Hammond organs, Rhodes and Wurlitzer electric pianos, the Hohner Clavinet and Pianet, the Mellotron, the Yamaha CP70, Vox and Farfisa combo organs, Moog synthesizers and many more. It’s great “eye candy,” but also tells a deep story, putting these instruments in the context of the technological, social and musical trends that made them possible, and made these instruments the centerpiece of so many great bands. It follows the path from the time when a rock keyboard was whatever down-on-its-luck piano a band found waiting for them in a music venue to its evolution into a portable digital orchestra.
We helped make Classic Keys happen in two ways: We provided a grant to help offset the considerable publishing costs of such an ambitious book. We also provided the authors with studio photographs of instruments in our collection. As Lenhoff says, “The economics of publishing make it extremely difficult to publish a large-format, hardcover book of more than 400 pages when it’s aimed at a niche market. The grant we got from EMEAPP helped ensure that we never had to compromise on the quality of the book. It’s a first-class gift book in every way.”
Almost all of the beautiful studio photography of instruments in the book was done by Robertson, who is an Australian industrial designer, commercial photographer and design historian. That created a challenge. “Some of the instruments that were photographed for us by EMEAPP were either rare or otherwise difficult for me to find in Australia—especially in the fine condition we needed so the instruments would look like they did when they were new,” Robertson says. “EMEAPP’s photos helped us fill in some important holes in the book.”
Lenhoff, an American journalist and media executive, and EMEAPP founder Vince Pupillo Sr. began talking about the book about five years ago, when Lenhoff interviewed Vince to capture the story of EMEAPP for the book. Several years later, they began discussing how EMEAPP might participate in the project. “EMEAPP’s support has been a real difference-maker for us, and for the readers,” Lenhoff says. “We couldn’t have had a more appropriate partner.”
The book has attracted enthusiastic praise from such A-list players as Rick Wakeman (Yes), Donald Fagen (Steely Dan), Chuck Leavell (Allman Brothers and musical director of The Rolling Stones) and Steve Nieve (Elvis Costello). As Wakeman says: “The story of keyboard development, the people who built them, and the part they played in our musical history has never been fully told up until now. This book is a must for all who love keyboards and their history and indeed, music in general. It should be on every
music lover’s bookshelf.”