Quirky facts from the history of popular music have a habit of popping up in the most unexpected places.

So there I am listening to BBC Radio 4’s obit programme, ‘Last Word,’ when a snatch of the Beach Boys ‘Good Vibrations’ reaches my ears.

The song’s use of the Theremin to provide its signature sound is a pop fact known to most of us of a certain age.

But what I didn’t know was that the effect was actually produced by an Electro-Theremin – invented by one Paul Tanner.

Tanner sounds like he deserves a documentary all to himself.

As a teenager he was signed up by fellow-trombonist Glenn Miller and was a member of his orchestra until the band split in 1942.

If you’ve got a few spare moments this weekend, I’d recommend a visit to the Paul Tanner Electro-Theremin Page, which any serious Beach Boys fan will enjoy.

And when ‘Good Vibrations’ is perhaps the greatest ’45’ of all time, then let’s hear it one more time – in stereo, thanks to a YouTube disciple.

Last Word – BBC iPlayer

The Paul Tanner Electro-Theremin Page


The Beach Boys – Good Vibrations

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