When I was about twelve or thirteen, I discovered the Monkees. Even though I hated playing the piano, I really wanted a Moog synthesizer just like Micky Dolenz. Since it was the mid 1980s, my parents were not wealthy, and I was not a musician, I consider myself very lucky to have received a Casio SK 1 keyboard instead. Still, I couldn’t replicate anything quite like the outer-spacey sounds of Micky’s Moog, which was immortalized in the songs “Daily Nightly” and “Star Collector.”
“. . . we were in the studio recording a Carole King tune called ‘Star Collector.’ Mike was on guitar, peter on keyboards, and I was on the Moog synthesizer… At the time, all I could do was make it sound like a flying saucer, so that’s what I did.” – Micky Dolenz, I’m a Believer
Flash forward about thirty years and I’m in Asheville, North Carolina sitting on a hotel shuttle. Out of the corner of my eye, I spot some funky artwork on the side of a building. What? That sign says Moog! To my delight, I learned that the Moog factory is in Asheville and they give tours.
The Moog factory showroom is filled with the current Moog models, where visitors are encouraged to play. Headphones allow you to be as dorky as you want to be without disturbing others. When you are done geeking out, catch one of the twice daily factory tours (currently Monday-Friday). You’ll learn all about the history of Moog and get to see different models currently in various stages of production.
Speaking of outer spacey sounds, Robert Moog’s first business venture was selling theremin kits, and Moog still produces theremins today. Our fantastic tour guide not only gave us the history behind this haunting instrument, but demonstrated how to play it. Visitors can also give it a try in the showroom.
Many people visit Asheville for the beautiful mountains or to explore the Biltmore Estate, but I say go Moog! You’ll learn about Moog’s place in music history, see how the instrument has evolved, and perhaps even get to live out a childhood fantasy of your own.