40 Years of the Casio keyboard celebrated in new free fanzine

Charting four decades since the Casiotone 201 ushered in a new era of electronic music, the zine features stories of how the brand has influenced artists from Leonard Cohen to Salt ’n Pepper via Jarvis Cocker.

1 October 2020

In 1980, Casio released the world’s first digital keyboard and its influence on the evolution of pop music cannot be underestimated. Now by way of celebration of the brand’s 40th anniversary, Casio has launched a free printed fanzine chronicling stories of its impact on music and culture across eras, styles and decades.

Put together by music journalist James Thornhill, the 20-page publication features stories about specific artists, tracks and genres for which the Casio was a catalyst. For example, how Jarvis Cocker wrote Common People on a Casio keyboard, or the birth of digital reggae, which came about almost by accident from a keyboard preset on a Casio MT-40. It explores the Casio sound and its infiltration across genres and artists from Leonard Cohen to Salt ’n Pepper, Fat Boy Slim, Blur, Beck and Nine Inch Nails.

And it wouldn’t be a fanzine without nostalgic editorials on the brand history, showcasing retro adverts from the 80s and 90s, and a deep dive into the makings of the early Casio keyboards. There’s also a look to the future of the brand and its latest technological developments.

Hitoshi Ando, one of the original engineers from Casio's golden age of synthesiser production, and now the brand’s general manager, said in a statement about the anniversary: “Toshio Kashio’s strong wish, as one of the founding four Casio brothers, was to create a musical instrument that everyone can play. I think that thought captured the hearts of many people who wanted to learn a keyboard instrument. Casio's musical instrument business began with the Casiotone and it expanded from a friendly mini-size keyboard up to a synthesizer for professionals in only a few years!”

Only 1000 copies of the fanzine are being printed and can be claimed for free today by UK residents. You do have to give something small in return though… register your details and share your favourite Casio musical memory or leave a review of your current Casio instrument, and then zines will be sent out on a first come, first served basis.

You can also explore some of Casio’s history in a microsite dedicated to the anniversary.

GalleryCasio fanzine (Copyright © Casio, 2020)

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Casio fanzine cover (Copyright © Casio, 2020)

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Jenny Brewer

Jenny oversees our editorial output across work, news and features. She was previously It’s Nice That's news editor. Get in touch with any big creative stories, tips, pitches, news and opinions, or questions about all things editorial.

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