This remembrance was posted today at the website of the Bob Moog foundation. Michelle Moog-Koussa, daughter of Bob Moog, remembering Herb Deutsch – one of the Moog pioneers since the very beginning, who passed away December last year. Please note that the (c) of this article is with Michelle Moog as well as the (c) of the pictures. The original article can be found here.
In the early morning hours of December 10, 2022, I received the devastating news that Herb Deutsch had passed away the night before. Herb was just a couple of months shy of his 91st birthday. He lived a long, full, storied life. Even so, his passing was difficult to accept and process.
Herb has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. By the time I was born, he and my father had known each other and worked together for almost five years, so Herb knew me from the time I was a baby. When we moved from Trumansburg, NY to Buffalo, NY after Dad sold R.A. Moog Co. in 1971, Herb wasn’t around as much, but he remained a household name amongst our family, always mentioned with respect and fondness.
The next time I remember seeing Herb was at my father’s memorial on August 24, 2005, where he spoke with eloquence about his long working relationship and friendship with Dad. It was obvious that the respect and fondness I had grown up hearing about was mutual.
At the memorial, Herb greeted me with such warmth, even after not having seen me for a few decades. That shouldn’t have really surprised me, because as I realized later, the warmth and love he showed me were simply extensions of the inextricable bond he had with my father.
Since that time, I have had the opportunity to learn firsthand what that shared history meant to Herb. We were fortunate enough to see each other many, many times over the 17 years since Dad’s passing. In 2007 I drove up to New York from North Carolina to attend his epic 75th birthday concert. Hundreds of people were there, with various musicians paying musical tribute. Herb capped the evening by playing his beloved trumpet and Moog synthesizer, as well as a host of indigenous instruments. He was a very talented musician and composer, as well as a revered professor.
I would visit Herb and his wonderful wife Nancy every time I was in New York City, which allowed Herb and me to take long walks around their neighborhood. During those walks he would talk about Dad, the early days of pioneering the Moog synthesizer, about the darker period when Dad had to sell the business, the couple of times that Herb and Dad had significant disagreements, and the years Herb served as marketing director, and then sales director for Moog Music in Buffalo, in the period after Dad had left the company.
Starting in 2016, I had the good fortune of interviewing him three times for the upcoming Electronic Voyager documentary. As is typical for Herb, he was generous and gracious with his time, sharing insights and beautifully woven stories that only he held. He appears throughout the current draft of the film, as the steady, creative, determined force that he was.
Herb’s rich legacy will live on in many ways. One of those ways will be through the work of the Bob Moog Foundation. Over the life of the Foundation, we have highlighted Herb’s essential contributions to the Moog Legacy countless times. We’ve featured him on panels at early Moogfests, in our 2012 Moog Pioneers in the Studio calendar, and most recently, as an honored guest, along with the Moog modular prototype he once owned, at our Moogmentum celebration commemorating the grand opening of the Moogseum in August of 2019.
The last time I saw Herb was at his home on Long Island, New York in late January of 2022. I had flown up to see him so he could sign a vintage Minimoog for our upcoming fundraising raffle. The day before we were supposed to film, Herb took a bad fall and injured his nose, leaving his face bruised in several places.
He was in the hospital for a couple of days, and then home recuperating. We postponed the filming, and I camped out in a hotel room until he was able to see us four days later. When he arrived he was still bruised, but determined to sign the Minimoog and sit for the filming of our promotional video. With the support of his wonderful Nancy, we got it done. The raffle, which we launched on Herb’s 90th birthday, was a resounding success.
Now we have the immense fortune and unparalleled opportunity to expand how we share Herb’s story. A host of rare archival materials from Herb’s estate has just been donated to the Bob Moog Foundation Archives for preservation, and we are honored to share these treasures with people worldwide, for generations to come. So precious are these materials that I flew up, with our Assistant Director, Craig Frustaci, to get them. We drove them down to Asheville where we will carefully catalog, digitize, and share them with the world in the months and years to come.
There was such a sense of knowing when I was with Herb that I always considered him like family – an uncle of sorts. Our relationship was marked with love, honesty, mutual respect, and a desire to work together to preserve the full story of the Moog legacy. I will remember all of that, but each time I think of him, which will likely be daily, I will smile when I remember that he used to call me Mimi.
Mimi is my family nickname, which I don’t use professionally, so only people who knew me when I was younger refer to me that way. But Herb and Nancy used to pronounce it “Mih-mee,” or “Mim” for short. They were the only people to refer to me that way, something I relished and reveled in each time I saw them. It was just a reflection of the special bond that Herb and I shared.
Herb Deutsch leaves dauntingly large shoes to fill, in many ways. Despite the sadness that I carry, I look forward to stewarding part of his legacy, sharing what a truly unique, inspired, creative pioneer he was.
Herb, I hope you are regaling in the company you have in analog heaven with Leon Theremin, Raymond Scott, Harald Bode, Dad, Don Buchla, Peter Zinovieff, Alan Pearlman, Ikutaro Kakehashi, Tsutomu Kato, Dave Smith, and more. We miss you all.