Jean-Jacques Perrey, Electronic Music Pioneer, Dies At Age 87
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Jean-Jacques Perrey, a French composer and pioneer of electronic music, has died - and plenty of rap legends have his trailblazing to thank for some of their own work.
Rolling Stone reports that Perrey died of lung cancer at his home in Switzerland on Friday. He was 87 years old.
Perrey left medical school in the 1950s to focus on music composition. During that time he was one of the first European musicians to take on electronic instruments. First, he worked with the electronic keyboard the Ondioline. Later, he focused on the Moog synthesizer.
He moved to the United States in the 1960s, and teamed up with composer Gerson Kingsley to form the electronic duo Perrey and Kinsley. They made two albums together: The In Sound From the Way Out (1966) and Kaleidoscopic Vibrations: Electronic Pop Music From Way Out (1967).
Multiple rap artists have sampled or been inspired by Perrey's work. His 1970 song "E.V.A." along has popped up everywhere: Gang Starr's "Just to Get A Rep," and A Tribe Called Quest's "Same Ol' Thing" are just a few. Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Pete Rock, Lord Finesse, and Erick Sermon also have used Perrey's music. Beastie Boys' instrumental album The In Sound From the Way Out! used the title and cover art from the Perrey and Kingsley album of the same name.
Disneyland and Disney World also used Perrey and Kingsley's "Baroque "Hoedown" for Disneyland's Main Street Electrical Parade.
"If he were here today, there is nothing that Jean-Jacques would like more than to think that his fans were playing his crazy, funny, catchy Moog music right now – and smiling, instead of being sad," said collaborator Dana Countryman. "His motto and creed in almost every interview that he gave, was 'Keep smiling, and be happy!' He was the master of happiness. Thank you, Jean-Jacques for all the happiness you created in your lifetime – music that will live on for generations to come."