When I was a kid, 11 to be precise I met a guy called Steve Howell. I’d just arrived in high school, he was in the sixth form. He was really cool and made amazing music for the school passion plays using synthesizers and reel to reel tape machines. Through paper rounds and pocket money he’d managed to acquire an ARP Axxe, Crumar performer, Wurlitzer EP200 and two Sony TC377 tape machines. He also had a cool sweatshirt with what I thought was some kind of hippy logo with ‘London Synthesiser Centre’ written around it.
Obviously I had to get one too which I wore every day for at least three years before my mother told me I had to throw it out. Years later I spotted the London Synthesizer Centre logo on top of a temple in Cardiff! I realised then that I had been sporting the ‘Khanda’ – a Sikh symbol, for the previous three years.
The magazine of the time was International Musician. Every month the London Synthesizer Centre (aka Chase musicians) would have a 6-8 page ad full of ARP Odyssey, Axxe, Omni-2, Moog micromoog, multimoogs, Crumars, Yamaha CS 5, 10, 15, 30, 50, 60, 80, Korg MS10,20,50 etc etc I used to stare at them for hours dreaming of owning some of these American and Japanese classics. These ads were very memorable to me, featuring a Seikh man all dressed in white, holding a sword, Amrik Singh.
Fast forward a few years (approx 28 years to be precise) to last week, I was strolling through Manchester’s northern quarter and to my amazement I spotted a shop called Chase musicians- still there some 35 years on.
I had to go in of course, where I found no synths unfortunately, but I did find a man I
vaguely recognised from those late 70s adverts, Amrik Singh, standing behind the counter! I had to introduce myself of course and we chatted for a while reminiscing about the good old days of analogue. Amrik said he was from London but eventually settled in Manchester as he loves the city so much.
Simon Jones, May 2016