Gap Band Bassist Robert
wilson Dies at 53
By Jason Shadrick
Palmdale, CA – Bass guitarist for the influential funk and R&B outfit, The Gap Band,
Robert Wilson died of a heart attack on
August 15. He was 53 years old.
attack at age 61 on August 24 at his home.
Barr was best known for founding Alesis
in 1984. A talented electronic engineer,
he was instrumental in the development
of many of the company’s groundbreaking
products that helped make professional
recording accessible to more musicians. He
also co-founded MXR in 1973.
Along with his brothers Charlie and Ronnie,
Wilson formed the group—originally called
the Greenwood, Archer and Pine Street
Band—while growing up in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The group found mainstream success with such
hits as “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” and “Early in the Morning.” Wilson’s style of playing
influenced a whole generation of bassists including former Miles Davis bassist Marcus Miller
and Victor Wooten. During the ’80s and ’90s, many hip-hop and R&B groups sampled both
Wilson’s bass lines and his brother Ronnie’s drum beats. Wilson continued to tour with his
brothers and even performed a hometown show a few weeks before his death.
Wilson had completed a solo album, tentatively titled Robert Lynn Wilson, before his
death, and had planned a fall tour. Wilson’s management says they will be releasing
the record. Wilson’s protégé, Morris Rentie Jr., led a tribute show for Wilson in Tulsa,
Oklahoma, and another tribute is planned for Los Angeles.
Barr’s innovations with Alesis include the
ADAT, an 8-track studio tape deck that
recorded high-quality digital audio onto
video tapes. The ADAT was announced in
1991 and allowed for small and home studios to attain professional-level recording at
a much lower price for the first time. With
Alesis, Barr also advanced digital effects,
designing the first affordable all-digital
reverb, the XT Reverb, which retailed for
$799 as the company’s debut product in
1985, followed by the first sub-$1000, 16-bit
effects processor, the MIDIverb, in 1986.
Luthier and Inventor Phil
Petillo Dies at 64
By Rebecca Dirks
Ocean Township, NJ – Luthier Phil Petillo
has passed away at age 64 of a heart attack.
Beyond being a master luthier for Petillo
Masterpiece Guitars, Petillo was an inventor
who held more than 25 patents, including
the first patent on fret design since the
1800s and an acoustic pickup design.
LaSalle University. He built and repaired guitars for Bruce Springsteen, Tal Farlow, Tom
Petty, Johnny Cash, the Smithsonian, and
many others. In fact, Petillo was known for
selling Springsteen his iconic Fender Esquire
for just $180.
Most recently, Barr founded the company
Spin Semiconductor, where he worked on
the FV- 1 processor chip, which was the company calls “a complete reverb solution in a
single IC.” He also had recently completed
a book, ASIC Design in the Silicon Sandbox,
in which he shared his knowledge of integrated circuits. Barr is survived by his wife
and two children.
Petillo’s work stretched far beyond musical
instruments. He designed innovative products for both the medical and alternative-energy fields, including life-saving surgical
instruments and fuel-cell technology. He is
survived by his wife and five sons.
Kenny Edwards Dies
By Jason Shadrick
Petillo built, designed, and repaired gui-
tars for more than 40 years, learning the
craft from John D’Angelico and John’s
godson James Diserio. He was a gradu-
ate of Columbia University and earned his
Doctorate in Engineering Technology from
PG was lucky enough to speak with Petillo
for a builder profile in our May 2009 issue,
and with his son, Dave, for a feature on
inlay artists in our July 2009 issue. Judging
by the proliferation of positive online comments on both articles, Phil Petillo made an
incredible impact on those he encountered.
Despite his professional excellence in multiple fields, Petillo remained down-to-earth
and personable. His artistry and commitment to innovation will be missed.
Alesis and MXR Founder Keith
Barr Dies at 61
By Rebecca Dirks
Ventura, CA – Songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Kenny Edwards died on August
18 after battling prostate cancer, he was 64
Phil Petillo (right) with Tal Farlow
Vancouver, WA – Keith Barr, a pioneer
in the pro-audio industry, died of a heart
As a founding member of the Stone
Poneys—along with Linda Rondstadt and
Bobby Kimmel—Edwards was a prolific