Roger Powell to Donate Historic Keyboard Controller to the BMF

Bob’s longtime customer and friend returns dual manual modular controller to it roots

Below is a blog written by Roger Powell (Utopia, Todd Rundgren, David Bowie) about his recent donation of a historic keyboard controller to the Bob Moog Foundation.  We are honored and grateful to have such a unique part of history added to our collection–thank you Roger!
Bob Moog and Roger Powell at Radio City Music Hall with the now donated keyboard controller and destroyed modules.
My custom dual-manual Moog keyboard controller was built in 1974 along with two System 55 cabinets containing a host of Moog modules. I had been doing clinics in the US and Europe for the Moog company, was hanging out with Bob a lot, and had just joined Todd Rundgren’s Utopia that summer. The big system was put together for me to perform with on tours. The keyboard was designed to my specifications: two keyboard manuals, pitchbend and mod wheels, a mixer section with four faders, an effects loop, VU meter, and sockets for a Ribbon Controller and standalone Sample/Hold module. Bob himself worked on the mixer circuit design, and also handcrafted aluminum edge protectors for the 55 cabinets to help with wear-and-tear on the road!
The keyboard controller in its current condition.

After the first evening of a two-night booking in Cleveland, OH, the custom keyboard was stolen from the stage! Strangely, the modular system cabinets were left untouched. My guess is that the thief believed the keyboard itself to be playable, as it resembled a two-manual organ. The 100-pin Centronics connector should have been a tip-off that this was no ordinary organ however! A few years later, the System 55s were destroyed in a warehouse fire, thus removing all remnants of the original system.

In 2002, much to my surprise, the missing keyboard was listed on eBay. The person offering the keyboard had no idea it had been stolen and was not the thief (he was younger than the age of the keyboard.) I was able to negotiate it’s return and have held onto it since, hoping to refurbish it but never completing that project. After Bob’s demise and the creation of the Bob Moog Foundation, it occurred to me that the custom keyboard deserved to be in a place where it can serve as my personal tribute to my dear friend Bob Moog.
Bob and Roger Powell in 1974 on location at the Systems and Technology in Music store, Kalamazoo, MI.

It is my honor to donate this little piece of Moog history to the Foundation so that people can enjoy seeing it and hearing about its interesting past. Bob and I spent some very happy times together; I will always remember laughing a lot with him as we both shared an acerbic, wisecracking sense of humor!


To see more photos of Roger from the 1974 demonstration in Kalamazoo, click here.

If you’re a longtime Moog fan and have something of interest to donate, the Bob Moog Foundation Archive can use whatever you have – old newpaper reviews, vintage Keyboard magazines, Moog catalogs, photos from shows or college music studios, photos of your Moog/synthesizer rig, music you’ve written. These things can help us tell the story – keeping people interested will all facets of the Moog legacy. With your permission, we can use the materials to teach people about the evolution of electronic music, and how the Moog Legacy still affects the world today. Be creative – and add your own history to the Foundation’s growing collection. Contact us at

Please help us keep Moog history alive for future generations. These photos and so much more from our archives will form the basis of our traveling exhibits and eventually our permanent exhibit at the future Moogseum.  DONATE TODAY to help our preservation efforts.

One Response to “Roger Powell to Donate Historic Keyboard Controller to the BMF”

  1. Gary Smith

    Hello to all hard working persons at the Bob Moog Foundation, HATS OFF to each of you !

    I am very grateful to feel a part of the Moog family with my purchase of a 50th Anniversary Voyager, (one of 100 that were hand signed by Bob).. My partner and I have visited with the folks at the Moog factory on 3 occasions and have always bought something directly from the factory floor, be it upgrade kits for the Voyager or the Etherwave…..

    I was privileged to give my FIRST synthesizer symposium at the University of Massachusetts Amherst for a composition class a few years back to students and faculty. I took some photos of the class AND some on another visit to the electronic music lab where an expanded model 15 was kept… I would be VERY happy to donate some high resolution photos to the foundation for it’s use and to help to keep the work of Bob Moog alive !

    Gary Smith
    Holyoke, MA

Leave a Reply