Synthesiser pioneer Peter Zinovieff, who worked with the Beatles and David Bowie, dies aged 88

He worked on the unreleased Beatles track, "Carnival of Light"

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Peter Zinovieff, the British composer and pioneer of the synthesiser, has died aged 88.

As revealed by composer James Gardner and reported by the Guardian, the artist had suffered a fall at his home earlier this month and been in hospital for 10 days.

“With a heavy heart, I am sorry to confirm the death on Wednesday evening of Peter Zinovieff, composer, founder of EMS, and pioneer of computer music in the UK,” Gardner wrote on Twitter. “He was 88, and had been in hospital for 10 days following a fall at his home.”


Zinovieff’s company Electronic Music Studios (EMS) was one of the first to make synthesisers publicly available, and he was said to have sold the instruments to the likes of The Beatles, David Bowie, Kraftwerk and Pink Floyd, even teaching many of them how to use his creations.

In a 2015 interview with the Guardian, Zinovieff spoke of how he taught Ringo Starr how to use one of his bestselling synths, the VCS3.

“I had a nice time teaching Ringo Starr how to use it,” he said. “I would go to his house in Hampstead. He wasn’t particularly good. But then neither was I.”

Zinovieff also collaborated with Paul McCartney in 1967 on the unreleased composition “Carnival of Light”. “I’d like to get in touch with him about it,” he told the Guardian, hinting that he would want the piece to see the light of day. “But I’m quite in awe – how do you get in touch with God?”

Following news of his death, tributes have been paid on social media, with those remembering Zinovieff’s talent and pioneering synthesisers, as well as memories from those who learned about the instruments from the man himself.


Zinovieff is survived by his fourth wife, Jenny Jardine, and six children, Sofka, Leo, Kolinka, Freya, Kitty and Eliena.

Originally published on NME
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