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15 Years Of Sound On Sound

Special Feature By Ian Gilby
Published November 2000

Soundtrack? "Mmm, nice play on words..."

Synthetix? "Nah, people will think it's a haberdashery magazine..."

Recording? "Simple and to the point..."

Multitracker? "Getting better..."

Two hours later, my brother Paul and I were still thinking up names for our dream magazine when we stuck our favourite Bill Nelson album on the turntable and stopped to make another cup of tea. Glancing at the album sleeve, inspiration struck. "What about 'Sound On Sound', I enquired? "That's the one!" confirmed Paul. And that's how, way back in May 1985 in a rented bungalow in rural Cambridgeshire, the 340‑page magazine you now have in your hands came to be called Sound On Sound.

Looking back, it seems like only yesterday when two young, enthusiastic lads resigned from their editorial jobs because they were at loggerheads with a publisher who did not understand their vision of a magazine that would encapsulate the converging worlds of recording and music technology. That's what we were interested in, and it was obvious to us back then at the birth of MIDI that it was only a matter of time before tape recorders were replaced by digital sequencers with random access, ample capacity and resolution to record entire performances, as well as control the entire mix. How could you publish a magazine about recording and not include MIDI sequencers?

So we left our jobs and signed on the dole. Two weeks passed and our rent became due, and that's when 'Red Cross food parcels' and financial subsidies from our parents commenced and we quickly realised that we had to get another job. The obvious solution was to start our own magazine!

We quickly dismissed the idea as foolhardy and a guaranteed way to make ourselves bankrupt, as we knew nothing about running a company, but the seeds were sown that night as we lay asleep, dreaming of what might be. Next morning, we awoke filled with a sense of passion for the subject that still underpins the magazine today.

To celebrate the past 15 years, we have put together this birthday supplement — a collection of facts and figures from each year, plus significant/unusual/funny front covers and adverts of the time.

Sound On Sound is very much a team effort, and we have been very lucky over the years to attract some of the most talented individuals in the industry. I cannot let this opportunity pass without thanking and praising all past and present readers, staff, writers and advertisers, for it is your contributions that have helped shape SOS and make it what it is today: the most respected, authoritative publication in its field. I'm immensely proud of that achievement.

Final thanks go to Michael Warner of Warners Printers, who had the foresight to extend our credit when the money ran out after Issue 3 and we couldn't pay our print bills. Without such faith, SOS would most likely not be around today. Enjoy the birthday issue, and here's to the next 15 successful years!

IAN GILBY Publisher

Special thanks to Debbie Poyser and all the SOS staff for their invaluable help in compiling this birthday supplement.