Fairlight CMI Series IIX

Fairlight IIx CMI at Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada, USA. Copyright 2013 Kirk D. Keyes

Fairlight IIx CMI at Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada, USA. Copyright 2013 Kirk D. Keyes

After literally dreaming of owning of a Fairlight CMI for decades,  I bought one in January 2012. It’s a Series IIx, as I had always hoped of finding that version of CMI. As it was for sale with a local pickup only, a friend and I flew to Las Vegas where it was to pick it up. I then drove a rental Mazda 6 sedan over 1000 miles on the next two days to get it home, with the music keyboard belted into the back seat and filling the trunk with the rest of the system and the multitudes of floppy disks.

Now that I’ve had some time to get familiar with it, I have to say it’s the coolest synth that I’ve had a chance to play with. There are just so many different things that it can do! And the sound is fantastic – there truly is something unique in the sound of the Fairlight.

My IIx came with more than 150 floppy disks. I’ve looked through perhaps 50 of them. Some of the disks have user names on them – Some of the names on these disks are as follows:

  • Peter Gabriel (for a 1982 Tour?)
  • Dave Grusin
  • SG Tour (Simon and Garfunkel)
  • Luther (Vandross?)
  • Ed Walsh – who worked as a keyboard player and programmer with many top musicians such as Madonna, Dave Grusin, Luther Vandross from the late 1970s on.
  • Gary Chang – American film composer, synthesizer player and producer. Gary was Fairlight USA support in the early 1980s and moved on to film scoring, including films such as The Breakfast Club, 52 Pick Up, and Under Siege.

I’ve traded disks with a fellow Fairlight user and bought one disk. These disks are:

  • Peter Gabriel – 1986 tour?
  • Kim Wilde’s unreleased demo song “Jupiter”
  • Pet Shop Boys “West End Girls”, possibly a touring disk.

I think the bulk of my disks came from a company in Columbus, Ohio called Morningstar Video Productions / Discovery Systems. They had a full set of the Fairlight factory library and they made a set of backup disks. this makes up about 60 disks in my collection. There are about another 30 or so system and utility disks, and the rest are from what looks like someone made copies of another disk set of various disks as all the disks have the same handwriting on them and all appear to have been made with the same pen.