Published Dec 15, 2019Gershon Kingsley — the synth pioneer behind the hugely popular 1969 track "Popcorn" — has died. Kingsley passed way on December 10 in New York. He was 97.
The classic "Popcorn" was originally recorded in 1969, but it was redone by Hot Butter in 1972, when it climbed both the Billboard chart and those abroad. "Popcorn" was again redone by Crazy Frog in 2005, when the song again climbed the charts. More recently, the song was reissued on Record Store Day in 2018.
Besides "Popcorn," the Emmy Award-winning Kingsley composed "Baroque Hoedown," the theme song for Disney's Main Street Electrical Parade, alongside Jean-Jacques Perrey. Kingsley's work has also been sampled countless times over the years, especially in the world of hip-hop.
While born in 1922 in Germany, Kingsley settled in New York in 1946 before attending the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music. Starting in various Broadway and off-Broadway productions, he went on to work as a musical director for Josephine Baker, the Robert Joffrey Ballet and The World of Kurt Weill, a TV special that starred Lotte Lenya.
Kingsley first teamed up with collaborator Perrey in 1966, releasing their hugely influential album The In Sound From Way Out — an album title and concept Beastie Boys later borrowed for their 1996 instrumental effort. Kingsley also famously collaborated with John Cage in 1967 as he slowly emerged as a pioneer of the Moog synthesizer.
In 1970, Kingsley formed the First Moog Quartet, an ensemble entirely made up of Moog synths. By the 1980s, Kingsley shifted into the growing world of New Age music and continued to work on electronic music throughout his life.
One of the composer's final works was Raoul, a piece about Raoul Wallenberg that premiered in New York in 2004 and became a full production in Germany in 2008.