Leading synth pioneer and creator of the iconic Prophet synthesiser, Dave Smith, has passed away at age 72.
Smith’s founding synth company Sequential announced the news of his passing on Instagram and the company’s website on June 1 adding that the team were “heartbroken”.
No cause of death has been given as of yet. “We’re heartbroken, but take some small solace in knowing he was on the road doing what he loved best in the company of family, friends, and artists,” Sequential stated.
Smith was known for his pioneering work with synthesisers and co-innovation of the MIDI. In 1974, Smith founded California-based tech company Sequential which was later acquired by Yamaha in 1987.
Under Sequential, Smith went on to create iconic and beloved gear including the Prophet-5, the first programmable polyphonic analog synth, and the MIDI interface which would be used globally and shape further innovation of electronic music equipment through the 1980s.
Smith worked closely with fellow engineer Chet Wood and Roland founder Ikutaro Kakehashi to create synths, drum machines, and MIDI synths such as the Prophet 600.
“Dave Smith has passed and I’m honestly devastated and speechless. What a genius pioneer and kind person. Total loss for synth tech and sound design. RIP Dave, you’ll live on forever in our hearts and our music,” said Maceo Plex in a tribute on Twitter.
Elsewhere, musicians and friends of Smith have paid homage to the late pioneer on social media, including Duran Duran, Flying Lotus, Kenny Larkin, Massive Attack and Hot Chip, as well as companies including Ableton and NTS.
Read a full list of tributes below.
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Dave Smith has passed and i’m honestly devastated and speechless. What a genius pioneer and kind person. Total loss for synth tech and sound design. RIP Dave, you’ll live on forever in our hearts and our music. pic.twitter.com/GD2f9XwT2D— Maceo Plex (@MaceoPlex) June 2, 2022
Original print ad for Dave Smith’s Prophet-5 synth, 1977 pic.twitter.com/Xe2hKQXkeI— NTS Radio (@NTSlive) June 2, 2022
RIP Dave Smith – iconic synth designer, music tech innovator, and one of the inventors of MIDI who laid the groundwork for much of what makes digital music making possible today. https://t.co/pOSlR0PQy0— Ableton (@Ableton) June 2, 2022
Even the gods wear socks. He was that down to earth , despite his monumental accomplishments and contributions to music. He adopted us and we adopted him into our small techno community. RIP Dave Smith @sequentialLLC pic.twitter.com/gZdjCDczCC— Kenny Larkin (@kennylark) June 2, 2022
Devastated to hear about the passing of Dave Smith, legendary engineer. My career in music would be nothing without the things he designed. It was an honour to have met him. A true genius and a lovely person who will be greatly missed.— Hot Chip (@Hot_Chip) June 2, 2022
RIP Dave Smith— Massive Attack (@MassiveAttackUK) June 3, 2022
Legendary instrument designer.
The founder of Sequential Circuits. In 1977 Dave designed the Prophet-5, the world's first fully-programmable polyphonic synth, the first musical instrument with an embedded microprocessor.