We are sad to announce the passing today of Martin Russ, long-time friend and contributor to the magazine.
For the first ten years of Sound On Sound, from 1985 onwards, Martin wrote extensively about MIDI and would often attend music exhibitions and talk to readers at our stand about their MIDI problems. His in-depth knowledge of synthesis and MIDI earned him the nickname ‘Mr MIDI’.
As one of our regular authors he reviewed numerous hardware and software MIDI products at the time and wrote several long-running authoritative article series: ‘Practically MIDI’, ‘Practically FM’ and ‘Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About System Exclusive’. Evergreen works which were referenced by music technology education courses for many years.
Martin was unwavering in his belief that computers would democratise music-making, and wrote our monthly Atari Notes and latterly Apple Notes column evangelising their benefits and winning many fans for his insight and vision.
As a competent software programmer, Martin also wrote a number of useful MIDI utility and librarian programs through the late 1980s for the Atari ST, which were sold via SOS Mail Order. There was nothing on the market like these at the time and they enabled users to monitor MIDI data transmission to better understand what their hi-tech instruments and MIDI sequencers were transmitting and receiving.
An early adopter of the DX7, Martin was involved in the popular DX Owners Club, founded by Tony Wride, an independent club that provided important support for the growing masses of Yamaha DX7 and other FM product owners looking to better understand how FM synthesis worked.
Martin’s interest in synthesizers enabled him to secure a job working at Chase Music in Manchester, then one of the big retail chains across the UK at the time that specialised in music technology instruments.
He went on to work for British Telecom at their Martlesham Heath research laboratories for many years and played an important part in representing BT on the MPEG Standards Committee for video compression, a format which laid the foundation for all recorded and streamed video to this day.
Martin’s enthusiasm and passion for all things synth was evident to everyone who ever met him and his knowledge of the subject was indeed encyclopaedic, attending SynthFest UK where he dispensed nuggets of synth wisdom to anyone who asked him a question. He made such an important contribution to Sound On Sound magazine and was much revered by our loyal readership and staff. We truly thank him for his help, insights and guidance and we always saw Martin as the ‘fifth Beatle’ of SOS.
Our deepest condolences go to Martin’s wife and children - we will all miss him.
R.I.P Mr MIDI.
- You can find all of Martin’s early Sound On Sound articles preserved in full on the excellent Muzines website:
- And this link collects together all his remaining work on our current website:
Did You Know Martin?
Anyone wishing to add their respects or comments can do so in the SOS Forum topic we've created here: