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Classic Synth Auctioned for Charity

In the past few weeks, several big ticket music-related items have been scoring big in live and online auctions, among them vintage lyric sheets from Paul McCartney, one of Jimi Hendrix’s famed left-hand-strung Stratocasters, and of course that one-of-a-kind Velvet Underground acetate record. Now a classic keyboard is going on the block, with all the proceeds going to support the WITNESS charity, a globally significant human rights organization founded in 1992 by Peter Gabriel. The vintage keyboard is signed by 44 superstars including Gabriel, David Bowie, Keith Emerson, Bono, Joni Mitchell, Herbie Hancock, Brian Eno, Nick Rhodes, Elvis Costello, David Gilmour, Annie Lennox, Stevie Wonder and many more. The auction is the culmination of a two-year project securing the rare keyboard and compiling signatories. An opening bid of $100,000 has already been entered on eBay.

Bidding ends on the night of Dec. 11, during the second annual WITNESS “Focus For Change” benefit dinner and concert to be held at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. Co-hosted by Peter Gabriel and actor Gael Garcia Bernal, the evening will feature live performances by Paul Simon, Angelique Kidjo, and Kate Pierson and Fred Schneider of the B-52’s, while attendees can make live bids on the keyboard right up until the eBay auction closes.

The Fairlight CMI is the model being offered, and its signature sound enlivened the music of all artists represented in signatures, basically defining the synth sound of the ’80s. It was the first synthesizer capable of digital sampling and can be heard in songs like Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” and hits by U2, Phil Collins, and Duran Duran, among many others.

Talk: How high will the price go before the (sledge)hammer falls? COMMENT

On the Web:
The synth for sale at