Flashback Friday | Keytars

Something very special happened in music during the mid-'80s. We became obsessed with futuristic sights & sounds. We really did want to go back to the future, and I think this was where we might have discovered synth-pop.

A beautiful thing emerged from all that synth - the fancy pants hybrid love child of the keyboard and the guitar - the keytar. The keytar was showy, and the people playing them knew it. Is there anything more beautiful than an enthusiastic keytar player? Well yes, yes there is. It's TWO enthusiastic keytar players. And that is where we'll start on this Flashback Friday...

Devo - those crazy whacky zany guys - were always a step or two ahead of the pack, what with their tiered plastic stack hats and all. And although the keytar wouldn't become a much bigger thing in pop music for a few years yet, Devo were out there making it something of a thing as far back as 1980 in the music video for 'Girl U Want'. Not content with being simple-minded trailblazers, Devo threw everything they had into embracing the keytar by upping the anti 100% - TWO keytars if you please.

The fabulous Stacey Q is flanked by two keytarists for the music video of 'Two Of Hearts', and the result is beguiling. The boys behind her really dig themselves in keytar mode, and I think we can all agree that we dig them too.

That is some top notch 1986 keytar action right there! I just can't get enough of Stacey Q at the moment. She is the '80s personified.

The 1985 Grammy Awards featured a very special 'coming out' of synth pop. Four legends of music got together and showed the world what beautiful things could happen if one could just surrender to the synth.

Stevie Wonder, Howard Jones, Thomas Dalby & Herbie Hancock got their collective electronica on and smashed out what would become known as a Synthesizer Showdown. I imagine that the audience might have been baffled and intrigued by the performance in equal measures, but it definitely set the tone for what was happening in music in 1985. And once again, we get to see what goes down when the keytar count goes up.

Moving on now to the keytarists who refused to risk being upstaged by a co-keytarist. Sometimes you just have to let your star shine bright on its own as a solo artiste. 

Jan Hammer wields a pretty mean keytar in his video for the Miami Vice Theme in 1987, and even one of Jem's sidekicks, Aja, rocked out on the keytar from time to time.

Now what would Pseudo Echo's seminal 1985 hit Funky Town be without a funky keytar thrown in for funky shizzes & giggles? These guys were the height of cool in Australia during the '80s. They really had it ALL goin' on, so it should be no surprise that their keyboardist would tear it up on a keytar. As a kid I really, really wanted to go to Funky Town. Even better if I could take Brian Canham with me. Sidenote: unfortunate surname don't you think? I wonder if the kids at school called him spam? I'll make sure I ask him if I ever get the chance to accompany him to Funky Town.

Any Indecent Obsession fans amongst us today? <shoots arm straight in the air & wiggles fingers excitedly>

Didn't Michael Szumowski bloody love his keytar?! It was a mega beast of a thing too. I wouldn't like to be holding it for long periods of time, but Mr Szumowski always seemed to be caught in the moment and not at all fussed by anything other than pumping out the sick synth kicks on songs like Say Goodbye, Tell Me Something and Never Gonna Stop. We salute you, Michael Szumowski.

I've saved the best for last. I've been DYYYYING to post this music video for some time now. FINALLY I have good reason to - it appears the never-humble keytar held the magic key all along.

There is just SO MUCH to love here. If you only watch one YouTube video today I highly suggest you make it this one. I could go on & on about it, but I don't want to be a spoiler sport on this glorious Flashback Friday. And with that, I'll sign off so you can watch the lads from Modern Talking. Let us know what you think in the comments ;)