The Minimoog is one of the most iconic synthesizers ever created and was the first truly portable unit of its kind. First released in 1970, the Minimoog became a staple sound in everything from progressive rock to funk to hip-hop over its initial 11-year run. Wendy Carlos's successful classical re-work Switched-On Bach was even recorded using a complex Moog modular system.
The distinctive sound of electronic synthesis was infectious, permeating every space of pop culture. So when the cheaper, portable Minimoog hit the market, that sound became a lot more attainable for musicians of all kinds, who responded by taking the inspiration and running wild with it.
Today, we're taking a look at 10 examples of musicians who made the Minimoog an important part of their signature sound.
The Miniâs three-VCO synth architecture has long been responsible for one of the fattest sounds around. When talking about huge bass, nothing comes to mind quicker than Worrellâs bass lines on Parliamentâs âFlash Light.â
To achieve such a gigantic sound, some speculate that Worrell connected several Minimoogs together (via their cv/gate interfaces) and played the monophonic line on all of them at once. But even if it was recorded with a single Mini, fatness was certainly achieved.
Throughout his prolific career with Parliament-Funkadelic, Bootsy Collins, and many other collaborations (including work with the Talking Heads), Worrellâs legendary playing is unmistakeable.
Parilament - "Flashlight" (12 Inch Extended Version)
One of the first players to bring the Minimoog to stage was the great jazz composer, innovator, poet, and philosopher Sun Ra. He pioneered the use of the Minimoog in an experimental and improvisational setting and embraced the exciting sound world that the new instrument afforded him in his electronic jazz explorations.
Sun Raâs âSpace Probeâ is perhaps one of the first recordings made using a Minimoog, recorded on a prototype of the instrument in 1969. More info on Sun Raâs history with the Mini can be found in Thom Holmesâs article for the Bob Moog Foundation.
Sun Ra - "Space Probe"
Progressive rock icon Rick Wakeman had multiple Minimoogs in his massive keyboard rigs with Yes and often utilized the Mini in his solo work. His dizzyingly fast solo lines and dramatic stage dress helped to inspire a generationâs interest in synthesizers, and by the mid-1970s every progressive rock band had to have a Mini!
Rick Wakeman - "Excerpts from The Six Wives of Henry VIII"
Gary Numan â one of the biggest names in new wave â used the Minimoog often on his records, starting with his first band, Tubeway Army. During the 1979 performance of their hit âAre âFriendsâ Electric?â on the British TV show The Old Grey Whistle Test, you can watch the songâs lead being played on a prominently featured Minimoog. Numanâs Minimoog can also be heard on âCars," perhaps his most popular song in the U.S., where it doubles the electric bass line for some of that famous Moog heft.
Tubeway Army - "Are Friends Electric?"
Tokyoâs Buffalo Daughter formed in the early '90s and were associated with the cityâs Shibuya-kei rock movement. They found a greater audience in America through the Beastie Boysâ Grand Royal label, and their unique style incorporates elements of â60s rock, DJ culture, and post-punk synthesizer work.
Bass player and keyboardist Yumiko Ohno can often be seen rocking a Minimoog on stage, and that signature sound can be heard on the bandâs excellent studio albums and remixes. Ohnoâs Mini playing was featured on some of her many other projects and collaborations with Cornelius, Cibo Matto, and Spiral Deluxe (which includes Jeff Mills, Kenji Hino, and Gerald Mitchell.)
Buffalo Daughter - "Autobacs"
Electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk also embraced the Minimoog. One can be spotted on the back cover of the Ralf und Florian record and heard on many of their records, including the famous Autobahn. Kraftwerkâs use of the Minimoog in their proto-techno and early electro brought the Minimoog sound to new audiences, inspiring countless artists and genres in its wake.
Kraftwerk - Live Perfomances Anthology
Pink Floyd often used many synthesizers when recording its huge albums. Keyboardist Rick Wright included a Minimoog among his arsenal of British and American synthesizers, notably for the brassy synth lines in âShine on You Crazy Diamond," particularly at the end of the songâs Part IX.
Pink Floyd - "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" (Full Length: Parts I - IX)
Dr. Dreâs early productions helped define the West Coast sound. Dre often used a Minimoog to play synth lines styled after the Ohio Playersâ âFunky Worm,â which he also sampled for NWAâs âDopeman.â (The Ohio Players may have used an Arp Odyssey for the original sound.)
Dre was also inspired by the Parliament-Funkadelic sound and Bernie Worrellâs huge Moog bass lines. And the squelchy, high-pitched tones Dre crafted from the Mini (as heard on The Chronic) became emblematic of that era of hip-hop.
Dr. Dre - The Chronic
Jazz/fusion/funk legend Herbie Hancock embraced the sound of the Minimoog throughout many releases during his prolific career and in his ever-changing live synthesizer rigs. According to an article in Keyboard Magazine, Herbieâs insane solo on Chaka Kahnâs âAnd the Melody Still Lingers On (Night in Tunisia)â used a custom system that allowed him to control two Minimoogs and an Arp 2600 at once.
Chaka khan ft. Dizzy & Herbie Hancock - "And the Melody Still Lingers On"
The late genius hip-hop producer J Dillaâs staple production tools were his Akai MPC and Minimoog Voyager, now both on display at the Smithsonianâs National Museum of African American History and Culture. The Voyager was the next evolution in Minimoog design and one of Bob Moogâs last creations.
J Dilla crafted tracks for many huge artists, including A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, and Erykah Badu, and his now classic instrumental album Donuts has Minimoog sounds throughout, augmenting sampled bass lines and lead lines.
J Dilla - "Workinonit"
The Minimoog continues to be a signature sound and influence on a vast amount of music being made today. With Moog Musicâs recent re-issue Model D (sadly, already discontinued), it seems the bass will live on and on for future generations to discover.