At 81 years old, Don Lewis, one the most brilliant minds in electronic music, has died.
Lewis invented the “Live Electronic Orchestra” (LEO), a ’70s era invention that predates the creation of MIDI and was forward-thinking for its time. He also helped create synth “voices” that were used in some of the most influential analog instruments of an artistic generation. He has also consulted for many of the top synth brands around the world.
Lewis was a key contributor to Roland’s seminal TR-808 drum system, an invention that revolutionized the course of contemporary musical history.
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Lewis began his career in a strange place: as a Nuclear Weapons Specialist in Air Force. After his time in the Air Force, he began to work as an electronic engineer. His work was influential and he collaborated with Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson and many other musicians.
A forthcoming documentary, Don Lewis and the Live Electric Orchestra, which covers the life and times of the electronic music pioneer, is set to debut in February 2023, per Pitchfork.
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