The Greatest Rock Legend You've Never Heard Of...

The Greatest Rock Legend You've Never Heard Of.
Edgar Winter's "Frankenstein"
Steve Miller's "Fly Like an Eagle"
The Who's "Baba O'Riley"
...and the freaking voice of R2D2!!!

Each of those Youtube links above feature the ARP 2600 synthesizer, an iconic and freakish instrument first introduced in 1971.  We've all heard it.  We all know its voice.  And yet, virtually none of us know where those sounds came from...and who was responsible.

The simple answer is that the man responsible was Dennis Colin, a mad scientist electronics engineer straight out of the fiction books.  I got to meet him this past Friday at his home and it rocked my world. (That's the two of us in the picture above.)

The short story goes like this... Dennis spent several years at the ARP company, creating the 2600 and other strange instruments.  Eventually the company changed hands and he moved on to other work away from music. 

Years after retiring, Dennis now lives alone in a small house somewhere in New England.  He recently lost his wife and has been having a rough time.  A chance meeting between his daughter and my business partner, Ben "C. B. Gitty" Baker led to my eventual visit to his house.  I stood on his doorstep feeling like Ralphie about to meet Santa Claus.

A frail man at 71 years, Dennis has sharp mind of a teenager.  Although he left ARP Synthesizers many years ago, he never left music and he enthusiastically showed me his secret lab upstairs in the house.  There were oscilloscopes, strange strobe lights, a homemade 500 watt amp (!) and model airplanes scattered about.  When he talked about music, he referenced everything from da Vinci to string theory.  Forget Ralphie...I was in the inner sanctum of the musical Willie Wonka!

Dennis told me he had a guitar pedal that would rock the world and he had been trying for 20 years to get it on the market.  I must have spent 2 hours playing a guitar through it.  Warbles, fuzzes, bleeps and strange Ed Wood sounds came out.  It was like nothing I've ever heard.

But this email isn't about Dennis... it's about you. 

Life is full of commitments and packed schedules.  We're grownups and we're supposed to work, work, work and then placate our minds with cable TV at night.

But what if we started exploring again, like we did as children?  What if we got out of our comfort zones and met interesting people?  What if we helped them?  I only spent 3 hours at Dennis Colin's house, but now my life is changed forever.  I met a hero and I now call him my friend. 

I think we should never lose our sense of wonder and the thrill of hero worship. We should also always explore new rabbit holes in search of the White Rabbit.  Life is fascinating.  It's exciting.  Let's have the mind of Dennis Colin and continue the search for awesomeness.

I challenge you to make 2015 the Year of Wonder.  Explore new things.  Be a sound searcher...develop a craving for art or stories...follow a tingle in your brain.

Next week, I will be attending the NAMM convention in Anaheim, CA along with my friends from Musicvox Guitar and Amps.  (If you remember, I perform with their amps and I also design their magazine ads.)  While there, I'm going to be talking to every guitar pedal maker possible and telling them about my new friend, Dennis Colin.

Stay primal.

Shows this week: 
Shane Speal's Snake Oil Band headlines the HIBREWNATION Beer Festival in Gettysburg, PA this Saturday from 12-5pm.  80+ craft beers.  Spirits and Wine.  Food and more.  Tickets are limited, but still available.  Get yours now at

PS.  You know, my life seems to be filled with people who are my heroes and have become friends.  I'll never stop being grateful for all these people:
Dennis Woloch, graphics designer for KISS (who did my own album cover)
Glenn Kaiser, Gospel blues singer who radically changed my life (and shared the stage with me)
Don Ryan, whistlemaster of York's Steam Whistle concert
Chris Ballew, leader of the Presidents of the United States of America (who brought me on stage and even used my son, Brennen in one of his solo videos.)
...and so many more.
Guitar of the Week
The Super BadAss

A one-of-a-kind creation.  I wanted to create a solid, stage-ready dobro sounding cigar box guitar with an iconic look.  It practically named itself upon completion. Super BadAss.

This 3-string cigar box guitar features a gorgeous Undercrown cigar box, antique baking tin "resonator cone" and six turbo soundholes.  It's acoustic and electric with an internal contact mic pickup.

Hand woodburned fret markers.  Shane Speal signature tuners.  Strung with Southbound Strings.

The Super Badass cigar box guitar by Shane Speal
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The Shane Speal Newsletter is sponsored by C. B. Gitty Crafter Supply, the cigar box guitar parts superstore.  Build your own instruments!

Oh you design Tshirt art?  We're starting to work on the 2015 tour shirts for Shane Speal's Snake Oil Band.  We do cash and trade (cigar box guitars!) for artwork!  Let me know.

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Comment by Slowpaw Steve T on January 14, 2015 at 3:18am

I've always liked the sound of the Mellotron, but if I went to ask Rick Wakeman about them he'd probably kick my ass all the way back down along the path!

that would be different - Mellotrons and CBG's! :-)

Comment by Clock The Wolf on January 13, 2015 at 6:30am


Comment by the anonymous pick on January 12, 2015 at 5:55pm

very  nice  , and  inspiring   post  .  

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