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BBC Rockschool: Alastair Gavin�s Rig (1987)


Sundown
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Hey All,

 

in the pre-internet era of the eighties, a show like the BBC"s Rockschool was a godsend. In the second season they added a keyboard player (Alastair Gavin). I remember drooling over his (then) state-of-the-art rig. You can see it here at 3 minutes 30 seconds:

 

[video:youtube]

 

He had a...

 

Roland RD-1000

Roland Super JX

Memorymoog

Yamaha DX21 (later replaced with a DX7-II)

Casio CZ-1

Akai S900

A Vintage Korg CX-3

 

I learned a lot about basic sound programming from watching that show. Unfortunately some of the best clips have been removed from YouTube, and I doubt you can find the series on DVD. But there are still some clips out there.

 

Enjoy -

Sundown

 

Working on: The Jupiter Bluff; They Live, We Groove

Main axes: Kawai MP11 and Kurz PC361

DAW Platform: Cubase

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Yes! I remember watching this show on DVD. It was a bitter-sweet moment as a piano player. It made me realize that the keyboard player will never look as cool as the guitarists, bassists or drummer. The guitarist/basists have a non-chalant, cool stand-up stance, the drummers have the passive-aggressive body language towards the drums. And then there's the keyboardist who looks like he's behind a take-out "counter" - making sandwiches or pizza (check it out at 0:55, 1:35 and 7:15 min). It didn't deter me from learning to play, but I remember that realization was a big blow to my ego.

 

The fact that Alastair Gavin was wearing a computer dweeb outfit was a bit prescient in terms of how computerized everything became.

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I *loved* Rockschool, taped every episode and watched each one many many times. I pretty much have all the demo tunes burned into my brain, still, after all these years... and I have all the programs here, and revisit them occasionally.

 

It was a unique TV program (still is, in many ways). The Rockschool cast continued to contribute to magazines of the era with regular columns, and you can also find some news, interviews and behind the scenes pieces about Rockschool archived on mu:zines.

 

And hey, I thought Alistair was totally cool, but then I also thought those thin keyboard ties were cool (for a while), so draw your own conclusions... :)

 

Also in his rig was an MC500, a programmable MIDI patchbay and a rack of SPX90s...

mu:zines | music magazine archive
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Ah wow - I"d forgotten about Rock School! The Beeb made some interesting, informative and (at the time) cool progs about music back then.

 

That rig would have cost an arm and a leg, but probably financed by the BBC licence fee payer - without their knowledge. :grin:

 

Back then, I used to work near an old school 'music shop' where most of the guys who worked there were quite accomplished pianists of the Classical variety, who tended to look down their nose at 'all this modern stuff', both music and instruments.

 

There was one guy who was friendly and didn"t mind a bumbling young wannabe player (still now mostly bumbling but just a lot older...) like me, coming in during my lunch break and having a noodle around on all the latest stuff they sold, despite most of the staff hating it and knowing bugger-all about it,

 

I didn"t stand a hope of affording it and he knew that, but providing I didn"t drool on it, he was ok!

 

It was amusing to see a very young looking Jools Holland briefly shown in the 'coming later' bit - still going strong and a bit of a British 'National Treasure' now.

 

I can see some time this weekend being spent looking at some of the other clips. Hopefully the Beeb didn"t wipe these programs to be thrifty and reuse the VT as the silly plonkers did with other programs like Top Of The Pops - I think they actually did it so they could even more overpay some of their 'star' presenters - not the guys on Rock School, but the knob brain Radio 1 DJs.......

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That rig would have cost an arm and a leg, but probably financed by the BBC licence fee payer - without their knowledge. :grin:

 

It's probably mostly of his own stuff, and stuff borrowed from other people or companies for the show - or possibly hired. Don't forget that back then, pro keyboard players pretty much needed big rigs, so this kind of thing was common for a working professional in a name band. Knowing how much the BBC paid for BBC2 educational programmes (basically nothing!), no one's itemising the cost of a brand new JX10/CZ1/Memorymoog/MC500/etc on the BBC budget sheet, for sure!

mu:zines | music magazine archive
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That rig would have cost an arm and a leg, but probably financed by the BBC licence fee payer - without their knowledge. :grin:

 

It's probably mostly of his own stuff, and stuff borrowed from other people or companies for the show - or possibly hired. Don't forget that back then, pro keyboard players pretty much needed big rigs, so this kind of thing was common for a working professional in a name band. Knowing how much the BBC paid for BBC2 educational programmes (basically nothing!), no one's itemising the cost of a brand new JX10/CZ1/Memorymoog/MC500/etc on the BBC budget sheet, for sure!

 

Lol! Yes it"s true BBC 2 was the poor relation in budget terms. A lot of the gear could have been manufacturer supplied as it was notoriously difficult to get product placement on the Beeb back then - they even used to tape over large keyboard logos on TOTP - now seems very silly. They couldn"t really do that on Rock School given what it was.

 

In fact a friends older brother was the frontman for an essentially 'punk' band that made it to TOTP briefly a few times, back in the day. Although a guitarist, (spit!) , he was inundated with offers of freebies, everything from strings, pickups and various clothing brands wanting to be 'seen' on TOTP which was then the 'holy grail' in the UK - seems strange now looking back at what it actually was by then, mostly a very badly mimed joke. It was really guys like Jools who eventually made live playing an essential with his 'Later With' progs.

 

My comment about it costing an arm and a leg was more relating to any mere mortal (like me!) wanting to buy the same.

 

What you said about pro players 'needing' a big rig was true as it became a bit of a 'mines bigger than yours' thing.

Rick Wakemans rigs were astonishing, but then, he could really play 'em good too!

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I *loved* Rockschool, taped every episode and watched each one many many times.

 

The clip that I really miss is the Rick Wakeman solo on a Minimoog (Season 2, episode 1, same episode that I linked to). I remember being 12 or 13 and thinking, "Who is this guy with the cool long hair just tearing it up with a portamento-laden sawtooth patch?" I had never seen anything like it.

 

It was a solo from Six Wives of Henry VIII, but even though I own some videos of his live 70's stuff, I've never been able to find the source material.

Sundown

 

Working on: The Jupiter Bluff; They Live, We Groove

Main axes: Kawai MP11 and Kurz PC361

DAW Platform: Cubase

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That was a great trip down memory lane as I was a big fan of Rockschool too. I loved Gavin"s rig but the only keyboard in my price range as a teenager was the Yamaha DX21 - still a great first keyboard though.

 

The sections that stick in my mind were: Vince Clarke running through how he records with his sequencer on a computer; and Herbie Hancock talking about the differences between a piano and a synthesiser.

 

I think I probably wore out my VHS recordings of Rockschool watching them over and over again.

 

Cheers

 

John

Nord Electro 6D 61, Wurlitzer EP200A, Neo Mini Vent, EV ZLX12P, QSC CP8.

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I loved this show so much. I must have been 16 or 17 at the time.

It was watching my VHS tapes over and over that got me wanting to play seriously.

 

It was definitely the Jan Hammer clip that got me wanting a keytar (yes, I realise that's a swear word to some people here !)

I finally got one about 20 years later and still love playing it on stage.

Not to Jan's standard, obviously, but hey, I can dream.

 

I agree with the comment about Alastair Gavin's rig.

It was probably hired in, but I wanted those toys so badly !

Also about remembering all the tunes.

 

Thanks for the link to the magazines.

I got my grandad to pick up Making Music every month as there was a music shop in his town.

The guys in the shop must have wondered what he wanted it for...

 

This thread has made me really nostalgic !

 

I'm sure I saw full episodes on YouTube about a year ago, but the whole series is definitely on there in instalments.

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Thanks for the link to the magazines.

I got my grandad to pick up Making Music every month as there was a music shop in his town.

The guys in the shop must have wondered what he wanted it for...

 

Heh!

 

I'm sure I saw full episodes on YouTube about a year ago, but the whole series is definitely on there in instalments.

 

Some parts have recently been taken down by BBC Copyright though, by the looks.

 

Note: You could probably ask him about his rig: http://www.alastairgavin.com

He's on Facebook as well.

mu:zines | music magazine archive
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Note: You could probably ask him about his rig: http://www.alastairgavin.com

He's on Facebook as well.

 

Studio running Ableton Live, MOTU Digital Performer, Sibelius

 

with Dynaudio/Genelec monitoring, Neumann mic, Wurlitzer EP200 electric piano, Telemark semi-modular analogue synthesiser

 

Oberkorn analogue sequencer, Philips Philicorda organ

 

Nord Stage 88 digital piano

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