Gibson Returns Trademark to Synth Pioneer Tom Oberheim

Tom Oberheim Gets Name Back from Gibson

Gibson, a company known internationally for its lineup of signature electric guitars including the Les Paul and SG, announced today that it had returned the Oberheim trademark to company founder and synth pioneer Tom Oberheim.

According to a statement issued by Gibson, the move was instigated after a chance meeting between Gibson president and CEO James ‘JC’ Curleigh and Oberheim at Winter NAMM.

“Of the many stories I have heard and decisions I have made since joining Gibson, this situation seemed simple,” said Curleigh. “Let’s do the right thing by putting the Oberheim brand back in the hands of its namesake founder Tom Oberheim.”

“After over thirty years of being without it, I am thrilled to once again be able to use the Oberheim trademark for my products,” said Tom Oberheim. “I am very grateful to the new leadership team of Gibson for making this possible.”

The Oberheim company first produced the OB-X in 1979, the OBXA in 1980-81, and the OB8 in 1983, as well as the Matrix 12, Matrix 6 and Matrix 1000 from the mid-1980s.

The OB-X was used on classic albums, ranging from Rush‘s Moving Pictures and Signals to Madonna‘s debut album. Prince, Harold Faltermeyer, Van Halen and Jean-Michel Jarre were also Oberheim enthusiasts.

Gibson is coming out of a tumultuous time. After surfacing from bankruptcy in 2018 the instrument company had a reported $200 million in debt. This month Gibson announced new creative collaboration agreements with boutique guitar makers as well as the opening of its new headquarters in Downtown Nashville.

NYC Dance Music Industry Veteran Judy Russell Has Died

judy russell downtown 161 vinylmania

New York City’s dance music community is mourning the passing of Judy Russell (pictured above left). The cause of death is not yet known.

Russell, a Bronx, NY native, was part of the inner circle and the volunteer staff at the legendary Paradise Garage. After working at now-defunct record shop Vinylmania, she went on to work at two seminal (and also now-defunct) NYC dance labels, Nu Groove and Movin’ Records.

Russell later took an influential position at Downtown 161, running the label and distribution arm of the business.

Last spring, a group of friends banded together to launch a fundraiser for Russell, who had fallen on hard times. Russell had been in and out of the hospital, became unable to work and had been struggling financially. Tony Humphries and DJ Spinna played a benefit party on April 12 at the Panther Room at Output on her behalf.

Former Vinylmania owner Charlie Grappone remembered Russell on Facebook: “We first met Judy Russell when she came into Vinylmania and bought General Johnson’s ‘Ain’t Nobody’ off the wire for $20. She bought it for Manny, who Bobby Shaw recommended for employment with us. I hired Judy later on and they were our Paradise Garage connections and brought us into the world of Larry Levan. She was a key part of Vinylmania’s success. Worked the floor, the register, mail order, the label, she did it all. Judy was with us for the births of our children and loved by our parents and families. After vinylmania, we continued working with her and Linda at Downtown 161. She was part of our lives for many years and will be greatly missed and always remembered. RIP Judy.”

Close friend and colleague Manny Lehman shared fond memories of Russell: “They say people come into your life for a reason … some people come and go and some people stay with you forever. Judy Russell came into my life like a force of nature and bought so much music, fun, life and laughter. Her passion for music was unrivaled. Her friendship unwavering. Her love of life was limitless. I will miss her tremendously and I celebrate all the wonderful moments we shared together. Our musical memories are the stuff of legend. Thank you Judy for being all you were to everyone, especially to me. You can rest now. Say hi to Larry for me! Love you forever.”

A host of industry icons and labels have also taken to social media to express their condolences.

This is a developing story and will be updated as we learn more.

Superfreak Artist Laurent Blondeau (a.k.a. Lo) Commits Suicide

Laurent-Blondeau-Lo-Superfreak

Mr. C, the legendary member of The Shamen and much-loved DJ/producer/Superfreak proprietor, has announced the passing of label artist Laurent Blondeau (a.k.a. Lo). He was 47.

According to Mr. C, Blondeau, who lived in Calais, France, committed suicide on June 29. He leaves behind a wife and two children.

In a statement Mr. C said, “I had several extended conversations with Lo over these last couple of months and although he recognized he was going through some trials and tribulations, he was always positive, which makes his passing all the more shocking as it comes right out of the blue. I, like so many others, am truly heartbroken.”

Blondeau connected with Mr. C when he regularly DJ’ed at the now-defunct End club in London. He later went on to become a resident at Superfreq club nights. Blondeau started producing music in 2010 and developed a deep, techy and dark sound. He signed music to plethora of top labels, including Superfreq, Wiggle, VeryVeryWrongIndeed and Fabric.

On July 12 the label will host a tribute record sale day “in which all proceeds from all Superfreq sales will be donated to leading mental health charity, Mind. We will also be setting up a JustGiving page, holding an auction and memorial event, details of which will be released in due course.”

If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide, do not leave the person alone. Remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt. In the U.S., contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.

Charlotte de Witte Launches KNTXT Label

Charlotte de Witte KNTXT

Globetrotting Belgian techno star Charlotte de Witte, whose career has been soaring for the better part of the past two years, has announced the expansion of her KNTXT party/radio show to include a same-named record label. The first release on KNTXT is scheduled for September 2019.

According to a missive, the imprint’s mission is to stay true to the techno underground and “aims to be an inclusive home that values purity and strength.”

RELATED: Charlotte de Witte Tells Us Why She Can’t Wait to Play America 

Obligatory press release gush from de Witte: “It’s been humbling and exciting to see KNTXT grow as party concept and radio show over the past 5 years and now I’m thrilled to announce its expansion with the launch of this new label. A label has always felt like the logical and natural next step for KNTXT, both as a place to shine the light on the music that I love and as a home for my own productions.”

She adds, “I’m looking forward to sharing the sounds of my favorite artists, some who’ve been around for a while and others who are just starting out, but all of whom represent a sound that I really love. In time, I hope the label will become a respected breeding ground and safe haven for unique talent, both new and established, as well as the main output for my own material.”

In addition to  upcoming appearances at Tomorrowland and Awakenings, KNTXT returns to Antwerp’s Sportpaleis on November 16 with a bill featuring a rare back-to-back headline performance from Marcel Dettmann and Ben Klock, a three-hour set from de Witte and a set from Chris Liebing,