Sunday, August 29, 2010

RIP David Hillel Wilson - Curator of the New England Synthesizer Museum

via Jay Williston of Synthmuseum.com

"Dave Wilson, of the New England Synthesizer Museum has just passed away.

Dave was our inspiration for starting the Synthmuseum.com web site some 15 years ago.

So many of us in the electronic music field have made a trip up to see him in Nashua and his amazing collection. He is one of us and will be fondly remembered and missed.


http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/obituaries/836148-225/david-hillel-wilson.html

-Jay (of Synthmuseum.com)"

He was only 49:

"David Hillel Wilson, 49, passed away Friday, August 27th, 2010, in his Nashua home. Dave was born in Bronx, NY, on December 12, 1960, and grew up in Fairfield, CT. He was curator and founder of the New England Synthesizer Museum in Nashua. Dave is survived by his parents, Jay & Vivian Wilson, and his 3 siblings, Rebecca, Ruth and Daniel. A graveside service is planned for August 30th at 1 p.m. at the Agudas Achim cemetery on Reid Street in Fairfield, CT."

I was fortunate enough to visit Dave at the museum and communicated with him off and on via email. You can see all posts featuring Dave and the museum here [update: Blogger search appears to be broken; use the Google search box on the right]. He was extremely kind and gracious. Some might consider him a bit eccentric, but how could he not be. He lived literally surrounded by synths. For what it's worth I consider myself a bit eccentric and most of the people I appreciate in life are as well. The one thing that stood out for me overall though, was that he was just plain nice. It's something I value more than anything else in people I meet. The ability to just be nice to others. He was just one of those guys you liked knowing was out there doing his thing.

He loved synths as much if not more than anyone I've met and he loved ALL synths, not just the rare and the analog. I'll never forget him wailing the Star Wars theme and Emmerson's Lucky Man for me on the Yamaha DX7 with the Rhodes Chroma Polaris by it's side. I remember wondering why he chose those two out of everything else he had in the museum to play for me. I knew many of the pieces needed work, but he genuinely appreciated the DX7 and the Polaris for what they were. He told me a little about the two and the significance of the DX7. Of course he showed me all of the other synths in the museum including the very first ARP 2500 featured here.

He'd often pop up on the AH list with interesting bits of info. He always promptly replied to my inquiries via email. He was just a very kind, giving, and gentle soul. I remember asking him if he ever worried about people stealing from the museum. He told me a story about some kid trying to walk out with an SEM under his jacket. Dave didn't seem angry in telling me the story. It was just something to be aware of. I remember leaving the museum, dropping somewhere for a quick bite to eat and then popping back on the freeway back to Connecticut with my wife. Right as I was heading off a ramp to another freeway, I see a purple PT Cruiser with a SYNTHE license plate driving by. It was Dave! I remember thinking how cool is that! He didn't see me and he continued on while I went on the other freeway. I was hoping to visit him again some day. That unfortunately will never happen. 49 is way too young. Although I did not know him well, I will miss him very, very much. Dave, wherever you are, may the synths be with you. Today's posts are for you.

video from October 2007 Note: This post went up at 10:50 AM. I post stamped it at 11:59 PM so it stays on top all day. As this literally was the first thing I woke to, I will put new posts up today below this one. Update via BexElttil in the comments: "Hi, Dave's sister Beckie here.. I would like to shed some light on how Dave died. He was in and out of the hospital since May 20th, they finally diagnosed him with amyloid AL. Basically, and extra protein attaches and grows to internal organs, there was no cure. We, the family did think he was going to beat it with chemo, God had other plans. He ultimately died of a heart attack on Friday afternoon. I guess they needed a really good synth engineer in heaven, and called for the best. If not for his friend checking on him daily and more than once a day, he might have been left there for days instead of hours. The museum does have a board, and my other brother Dan will be contacting them regarding what to do with the machines. Thank you, everyone for your kind words. I am awed by how many have known, loved, and respected Dave. I too, even as his sister, never had the chance to visit the museum. Blessings to you all. Beckie (Wilson) Basehore" Update via RuthsHere in the comments: "Hi there, (the OTHER sister chimes in.)
I hope you are all well. David was a pack rat(a family trait). It was a bit "sanford and son" over there. He knew what was important to him. Lack of funding kept the place in a little bit of a shambles. It's just how it was. Things could have been different, but that's not important anymore.

I am assisting Dan with organizing his material possessions. I had been in the "trenches" before and cleaned there a few times. I had ideas for his museum, but he really just wanted to do it his way.

Nothing is new to me when it comes to David except how much of an impact he has made on the world. I doubt he can ever be replaced, but I hope someone is able to finish repairs he started on some of the machines.

Thanks for everyone for their support and admiration. It's been a very pleasant surprise for his family.

Ruth Wilson"

17 comments:

  1. Wow, I'm so bummed... I've corresponded with Dave several times and had planned on visiting the museum soon, as I'm not too far off in CT... And yeah, 49 is too young :-(
    RIP Dave

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  2. This is just sad. Terrific guy. Hopefully someone keeps his dream going.

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  3. C'mon, which synth enthusiast isn't packing up their station wagon right now, getting ready to hit the new england area, to see if his mother would be willing to part with any of these ultra~rare monstrocities for anything less then our next allowance? No, really. Which Vermona was that? And yoyo ~ arp freq. mod #3 or mixer #?! Ha! if i even knew he existed, i woulda found something to donate. 'At least some kinda' rack unit. Nothing but respect could go out to this chap; David Hillel Wilson ~ huzzah huzzah huzzah! Live fast, oscillate . . . good!

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  4. Too bad the knowledge he kept was not written down or saved. But it was a rough place - things strewn all over, not cared for, no history presented for the visitor. It almost made sense, but there was no display or presentation, and it was actually damaging to some of the pieces (you see synths piled on each other, and on the floor, and the roof leaked for years.) I hope they make this publicly available or find some way to handle this. Being a nonprofit they are not supposed to SELL any of this stuff with board approval. Is there a board of directors? If anyone knows more, let us know...

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  5. I hope the collection goes to some museum that can afford techs to fix them all up and the right space to display them or maybe have them as an educational/working memorial in a sort of museum/studio set up

    that would be nice

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  6. A great man indeed. I truely hope someone with the same passion can attempt to pickup where he left off. The legacy of equipment left behind needs a man of equal worth. This will be almost imposible to replicate.
    Rest in Peace Mr. Wilson.

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  7. Having met him, I agree that he was a nice guy, and from the internet, generously helpful.

    I also agree with everyone who wrote that 49 is much too young. Does anyone know how he died?

    My condolences to his friends and family.

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  8. Very sad - I never met Dave, but he was very helpful to me via email on several occasions this past year, when he gave me useful information about a Paia modular I was restoring... My condolences to his family, and may he RIP!

    Re: his collection, although clearly it's more than just Moog stuff, I wonder if the Moog Foundation might play a role in preserving, restoring, and displaying it? Would be a bit ironic (and would give Dave a posthumous last laugh), since the Beastie Boys just partook in the MiniMoogseum ribbon cutting, and in an article in an issue of the Beastie's old Grand Royal magazine they were not very nice to Dave...

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  9. RIP Dave. Thanks for the help.

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  10. Hi, Dave's sister Beckie here..
    I would like to shed some light on how Dave died. He was in and out of the hospital since May 20th, they finally diagnosed him with amyloid AL. Basically, and extra protein attaches and grows to internal organs, there was no cure. We, the family did think he was going to beat it with chemo, God had other plans. He ultimately died of a heart attack on Friday afternoon. I guess they needed a really good synth engineer in heaven, and called for the best.
    If not for his friend checking on him daily and more than once a day, he might have been left there for days instead of hours.
    The museum does have a board, and my other brother Dan will be contacting them regarding what to do with the machines.
    Thank you, everyone for your kind words. I am awed by how many have known, loved, and respected Dave. I too, even as his sister, never had the chance to visit the museum.
    Blessings to you all.
    Beckie (Wilson) Basehore

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi there, (the OTHER sister chimes in.)
    I hope you are all well. David was a pack rat(a family trait). It was a bit "sanford and son" over there. He knew what was important to him. Lack of funding kept the place in a little bit of a shambles. It's just how it was. Things could have been different, but that's not important anymore.

    I am assisting Dan with organizing his material possessions. I had been in the "trenches" before and cleaned there a few times. I had ideas for his museum, but he really just wanted to do it his way.

    Nothing is new to me when it comes to David except how much of an impact he has made on the world. I doubt he can ever be replaced, but I hope someone is able to finish repairs he started on some of the machines.

    Thanks for everyone for their support and admiration. It's been a very pleasant surprise for his family.

    Ruth Wilson

    ReplyDelete
  12. Very sad news, Dave was a true gentleman. I had the pleasure of visiting the Museum back in '01, and donated a Vox 'Ampliphonic Stereo Multi-Voice' to the collection. Dave was very appreciative and we spent the afternoon playing and talking synths. When talking DIY synth building, I mentioned that I didn't know how to solder; Dave walked me over to a workbench where he was building a small PAIA modular panel, handed me the soldering iron and patiently talked me through applying a bit to a circuit board - then said to me, "See? Now you know how to solder! :) I'll always have fond memories of my visit with Dave, and wish to express my heartfelt sympathy to his family...again, a true gentleman and friend to this community.

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  13. I've just heard about his passing now. I'm very sad to hear this.

    I met David at a big guitar show a few years ago, right as my interest in synthesizers was blossoming. He had his ARP 2500 there, and I'd never seen anything like it. He let me twist the knobs this way and that, even though I obviously had no clue what I was doing, and talked to me a bit about his museum and the pieces he had. When he told me he had a Mellotron I *freaked*.

    A few months later I got in touch with him to help me repair my first analog synth - a Micromoog. I drove to Nashua from Boston, and he walked me through his collection of pieces. I played his MS-20 and Minimoog D. He opened up my Micro and helped me diagnose the problem, and even drove with me to Radioshack to get parts to fix it. I learned how to solder from him, and I've been getting better since.

    He was a kind and sweet man who had an incredibly deep passion and intellect for analog synthesis. I wish I'd had a chance to pick his brain more while he was here. I definitely owe a good amount of my full-blown synth-geeketry to him.

    Rest in peace, David. Say hello to Bob Moog for me.

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  14. I live in Nashua, moved here some 4 yrs ago, and just 2 months ago found out there was a synth museum in my own city. Having a fascination in synths I was thrilled to see what was it all about.

    When I went in late July of this year, he wasn't in great shape, told me about his medical issues as they were still in limbo. but when he talked about synths and played his DX7, you could see the happiness it gave him. For any keyboard/synth lover, I saw an emotion alot of us get when enjoying great sounds. Pure happiness were nothing else matters at that moment in time. This is how I will remember him.

    Awkwardly enough, I did talk to him about were his synths would go if he were to pass or shut down musueam, and he was thinking about sending some stuff to a musueam in Canada. On my way out I expressed that I hope it never leaves the Nashua area. We lost a great man, and synthesizer historian. RIP Dave.

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  15. I've met Dave a few times, met him from a mutual friend David White one of his partners he mentions in the video posted above, awesome quirky dude. Showed me the ins and outs of the EML Electrocomp 101 he serviced just before I bought it. I was also interested in the 400/401 sequencer but really wanted to try one before laying down the cash. He happily brought one to AHNE just for me to hook up to my 101.

    Such a great person.

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  16. Jeez what sad news. What has become of the Museum in Nashua? I was hoping to visit soon.

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