8-track Heaven "Ever See
One of These?"
Rick Wakeman of the band "Yes" invented and developed this instrument along with help from David Biro. Wakeman formed the company Birotronics, Ltd. which made just 35 Birotrons. Like the Mellotron, the Birotron "sampled" instruments and uses 8-track tapes for the various sounds. This was necessary before digital sampling became available. They were mainly used for strings, choirs, brass, and flutes; sounds not easily reproduced on the synthesizers of that era.
This instrument was used on the YES album, "Tormato" and Rick's solo album "Criminal Record."
Interview with Wakeman in 1999 where he talks about the Birotron
Is there any chance of hearing your old Mellotrons & Birotrons again?
RW: Oh no!, I don't have any of them!
YM: They're missing?
RW: Yeah!, I believe there are six Birotrons left in the world. I
heard that one was sold in America last year for $ 35,000.
YM: Wow!, you could be rich now! You only made about 30...
RW: 35. I had four, but two were stolen, and two were damaged beyond repair. So we believe there are six left, and one is in a museum, it has been just bought by Hard Rock Cafe in America, I believe also for a lot of money because they bought the very original one. I don't have one. I would like to have one, I must admit, I'd love to have one. The Mellotron... I used to have two single Mellotrons, and a double special Mellotron. And the two single ones I had, I was so frustrated, because of tuning problems, and the tapes... And full of anger, I took the two Mellotrons into a field, a put petrol over them, and I fired them.
YM: You really did that? I can't believe it!
RW: Yeah. And all of them, all the wood, burnt and all the metal just...
YM: Did you enjoy that?.
RW: At the time, at the time I enjoyed it, because they had ruined so many sessions through going wrong and breaking, but afterwards I regret it. Oh, of course I regret it!