The Holy Grail of electronica: Yello’s Boris Blank selling his original Fairlight sampler
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Boris Blank with a Fairlight sampler in the mid-80s
Yello are, beyond a shadow of a doubt, one of the most influential acts in the history of electro, techno and electronica. The skillful blend of Deiter Meier’s witty vocals and Boris Blank’s avant garde-but-accessible production chops saw the duo gain critical and commercial success in the early-to-mid 80s, at a time when rock music was still king and electronic dance music was still confined to clubs. 

Well, if you’re an antique gear fetishist with a spare $13K (Aus) then YOU could relive Yello’s glory days, by simply acquiring Boris Blank’s original Fairlight sampler, a fake moustache and an even faker Swiss accent. Yes, Blank is selling his Fairlight CMI III on eBay:

Every Fairlight Computer Musical Instrument has a story behind it. Hugely expensive when new, their unique sounds and legendary user interface were used by music pioneers who changed the sound of music forever.

At a cost around $65,000 in 1985 (which could have bought you a very nice house) the list of Fairlight III owners reads like a who’s who of musical innovation of the time. Peter Gabriel, Tears for Fears, Kate Bush, Thomas Dolby, Hans Zimmer and Pet Shop Boys were owners in the UK, with many studios catering for those who didn’t own one. For a complete list take a look at:

The particular system being offered here belongs to Boris Blank, the musical part of Swiss band Yello. One could argue that during the 1980’s Yello used the Fairlight more, and more interestingly than virtually anyone else. Every hit single they had (and there were quite a few) used the Fairlight CMI extensively.

So, if you ever lusted after one of these legendary instruments, here’s a chance to acquire one with some serious street cred! 

Yello Fairlight III. Signed front panel. There will be Boris’s sounds included, as well as all the libraries listed below, in 4 x hard drives. Boris is on holiday at the moment, however his assistant has promised some more photos and goodies when he returns!

The actual Boris Blank Fairlight CMI III that is for sale

I hope those “goodies” include a signed pic, Boris. MUCH more info is available on the eBay listing page.

I LOVE Yello, to me they rate up there with Giorgio Moroder in the development and history of electronic dance music, and I’m pretty sure some of our readers feel the same. Not only were Yello fresh and unique, they had a brilliant, intelligent sense of humor that put them at odds with nearly everything else happening in music at that time.

This Fairlight really is a hugely important part of dance music’s history: some of the noises that Blank managed to squeeze out of this machine were awe inspiring, and become signature Yello (and by extension, 80s dance) sounds. Having said that, I’m sure we’re all familiar with “The Race” and “Oh Yeah,” so instead of one of those classics, here’s a bit of mind-warping Yello electronica from 1981:

Yello “The Evening’s Young”

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
12:31 pm



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