In honour of this Fairlight Series III turning up on Austrailan Ebay (currently £814, but it will go up), I've declared this Fairlight Week, a celebration of the biggest, most expensive, cleverest and most over-the-top vintage synth of all.
5 things I didn't know about the Fairlight CMI:
The name comes from this boat, a hydrofoil which sails across Sydney Harbour to Manley. Inventors Peter Vogel and Kim Ryrie were looking out of the windows of their harbour-front offices, trying to think of a name for their new machine, and there it was.
The first synth Kim Ryrie designed was the ETI 4600. ETI stood for Electronics Today International, a magazine founded by Kim which published instructions for the DIY synth. In Britain, it was known as the Maplin 4600.
The first digital synth that Ryrie and Vogel developed was the Quasar M8, a vast machine which used 2kw of power, was four feet long, took two hours to boot up, had 4k of waveform RAM and - by all accounts - sounded terrible.
Peter Gabriel was the first pop star to use a Fairlight. His brother in law became the UK distributor.
Kate Bush was an enormous Fairlight fan, writing 'Running Up That Hill' and 'Hounds of Love' on one. "I took one look at it and said, 'This is what I've been looking all my life.' I couldn't believe the Fairlight. It's called a synthesizer, but many of its sounds are of natural source. To be able to play with strings, waterfalls, anything you want, it's wonderful."
FAIRLIGHT WEEK CONTINUES