"They were probably the craziest instrument you could imagine. I mean,
the Mellotron, when you think of it, when you think of what it is - I
mean, somebody thought to replace the string of a piano by a tape, and
to replace the hammer by a tape-head. When you play a key, the tape-
head, instead of the hammer, plays the tape. And then it was the first
sampler ever and you could play chords and you could play orchestras !
It was the dream of any musicians of that time to be able for a pianist
to play orchestra, full orchestra."


"Ah yes, Space Oddity. Everyone seems to think I got paid a hundred
quid for that session. Sadly, far from the truth - nine pound's closer.
What had happened was Tony Visconti had done a string arrangement, and
it tended to make Space Oddity sound, I know this is a bit of a
contradiction in terms, a bit like a 'song'. They wanted to get it
a bit more harsh and more rounded, so the idea was for me to come
in and do Mellotron beside the strings. What happened in the end was
the strings came off and we just double tracked this..." [plays 'Tron
passage from Space Oddity]


"We put our headsets on one ear and then we were listening to the tone
of the Mellotron while already started playing our stuff. Then by
listening to the 440 Hz out of the oscillator, we were tuning the
Mellotron against it. So it was the only way of doing it, and that had
to be done about ten times during the gig of two and a half hours.
Looking back to those days, that sort of adventurous fear, not knowing
if you will overcome a good, a bad concert, out of tune concert, or
whatever. Today everything, it's much better tuned, it's nearly
perfect, but it's not having a wild ride through the jungle any

(440 Hz is the frequency of middle 'A', the common reference point
 for orchestral instruments to tune up to.)


"A couple of hours prior to the start of the gig [Albert Hall '75],
someone came along and said "They [the Musicians' Union] are asking
for a couple of thousand pounds, for you're using an orchestra. You
are not using THEM, you are using your bloody keys, here. THAT's
an orchestra." So there was a bit of a fight going on backstage
and so we had to pay something, that night."


(Apologies in advance for spelling mistakes !)

"After having explored various ways in the '80s of, with digital
instruments and computers and all that, I actually thought that
these instruments may well become the Stadavarius of electronic
music for the future. Classical musicians like Yhudi Menyuhin,
for instance, they are not using a violin made in Japan with all
the modern technology, they are still searching an instrument
that has been built in the 17th century. It proves that time is
not necessarily linked with craftsmanship that you can reach
with one stage. With progress you are sometimes gaining things
but you are also losing things. Such an instrument couldn't be
done any more."

There was no interview with Tony Banks, which surprised me, as he
was responsible for most of my fave Mellotron moments (Fountain
of Salmacis, Seven Stones, Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats, etc.)

Perhaps most interesting was the revelation that the Mellotron was
originally aimed at being a 'one-man-band' machine for social clubs
and pubs - a Wurlitzer organ with built-in drum patterns, flamenco
guitar licks and corny punctuations.