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James Blake pays tribute to Dave Smith: “about 99% of my songs involve one of his keyboards”

James Blake
(Image credit: Frank Hoensch / Contributor)

Electronic musician and producer James Blake has paid a heartfelt tribute to Dave Smith, the legendary synth designer who died on 31 May.

Writing on Instagram (opens in new tab), Blake - who was known for his heavy use of Smith’s instruments - said: “RIP to Dave Smith. Such a lovely man, complete genius and in my opinion even in 2022 was still making the best synths in the world. I’m shedding a few tears as I write this.

Blake went on to call Smith his “longest standing collaborator”, based on the fact that “about 99% of my songs involve one of his keyboards”.

He also acknowledged the key role that Smith played in the creation of MIDI, and his desire to keep pushing synth tech forward. He ended with a revealing story about how the Sequential Circuits founder once got him out of a technical hole when he was on stage.

“One time we were playing in San Francisco and my Prophet 08 went completely out of tune and none of us had any clue how to fix it (no manual to hand and I’m literally on stage between songs), and as luck would have it, Dave was in the audience. He ran from the back of the hall, pushed through the crowd, jumped on stage and calibrated the oscillators (which took a while as we all just stood there nervously hoping it would work), and I was able to finish the gig, and we all gave him a huge round of applause. What a fucking legend.

“Here’s to another, final round of applause for Dave Smith.”

Other musicians and those from the wider music technology world have also been paying tribute to Smith since news of his death broke. You can read a selection of them below.

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I’m the Group Content Manager for MusicRadar, specialising in all things tech. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 20 of which I’ve also spent writing about music technology. 

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