Zero to 180 – Three Minute Magic

Discoveries of a Pop Music Archaeologist

Perrey & Kingsley’s “Secret” Ondioline

Jean Jacques Perrey and Gershon Kingsley — originators of funny and futuristic-sounding 1960s instrumental music with massive kid appeal — found common cause intermittently as a recording act that produced a total of three full-length albums and two single releases.  Perrey & Kingsley‘s appearance on an episode of I’ve Got a Secret (this video claims) is the duo’s sole live performance.  Perrey, was originally hired by the Ondioline‘s inventor, Georges Jenny, to demonstrate the electronic instrument’s unusual expressiveness and ability to emulate other musical instruments as shown here in charming fashion:

Jean Jacques Perrey & Gershon Kingsley

Spooks in Space” (1966)

Discogs helpfully provides these biographical details —

[Jean-Jacques Perrey] was studying medicine in Paris when he met Georges Jenny, inventor of the Ondioline.  Quitting medical school, Perrey travelled throughout Europe demonstrating this keyboard ancestor of the modern synth.  At the age of 30, Perrey relocated to New York City, sponsored by Carroll Bratman, who built him an experimental laboratory and recording studio at 209 West 48th Street.  Here he invented “a new process for generating rhythms with sequences and loops,” utilising the environmental sounds of musique concrète.  With scissors, splicing tape and tape recorders, he spent weeks piecing together a uniquely comic take on the future.  Befriending Robert Moog, he became one of the first Moog musicians, creating “far out electronic entertainment.” In 1965 Perrey met Gershon Kingsley, a former collaborator of John Cage.  Together, using an Ondioline and Perrey’s loops, they created two albums for Vanguard:  The In Sound From Way Out! (1966) and Kaleidoscopic Vibrations (1967).  Perrey & Kingsley also collaborated on sound design for radio and television advertising.

Perrey returned to France, composing for television, scoring for ballet and continuing medical research into therapeutic sounds for insomniacs.  Some of his compositions on library labels like Editions Montparnasse 2000 are credited to his daughter Pat Prilly.  He said in an interview that she didn’t compose as such, but provided him with ideas and inspiration when she played on the organ.  For this he gave her recognition.

LP Releases

Jean-Jacques Perrey and/or Gershon Kingsley

Perrey & Kingsley LP-1Perrey & Kingsley LP-2Perrey LP-aaKingsley LP-aaPerrey LP-bbKingsley LP-bb

The Ondioline would give birth to the Clavioline (the instrument behind that peppy 1960 UK instrumental “M1” profiled earlier), which would then give birth to the (heavily-modifed) “Musitron” – the distinctive keyboard sound behind Del Shannon’s “Runaway” from 1961.


Sy Mann (the creative force behind the Switched On Santa Moog album, as well as 1971’s Shaft as arranged by “Soul” Mann & the Brothers) would get in on the Ondioline game with a 1966 7-inch single released in Germany attributed to Sy & Bob Mann and the Ondioline Band, “Der Fröhliche Radfahrer” b/w “Fahrt In’s Glück:

Der Fröhliche Radfahrer

Sy & Bob Mann + The Ondioline Band (1966)

45Cat reveals that The Ondioline Band would release a 7-inch “Last Bicycle to Brussels” b/w “The Lovers of Cologne” in the UK in 1966.

More LP Releases

Jean-Jacques Perrey and Gershon Kingsley

Perrey LP-ccKingsley LP-ccPerrey LP-ddKingsley LP-d

8-track version of 1967’s Kaleidoscopic Vibrations

Perrey & Kingsley 8-track tape


Ondioline Trivia:

  • Al Kooper played ondioline on Blood, Sweat & Tears’ 1968 debut LP, as well as 1968’s Super Session with Mike Bloomfield and Stephen Stills.
  • Sy Mann‘s Switched On Santa album was engineered and mixed by Jean-Jacques Perrey.
  • Richie Havens plays an ondioline on his 1969 album, Richard P. Havens 1983.
  • Gershon Kingsley is the mastermind behind 1972 instrumental “Popcorn” – the smash hit attributed to ‘Hot Butter.’


Kingsley sheet music


LINK to Electronic musical instruments on Zero to 180

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