I’ve been tinkering with electronic music since my teens – at first a Roland TR505 drum machine and a Casio CZ-101 keyboard. And then in about 1987 I managed to swap my keyboard for a Roland TR808. I can vividly remember heading to Watford Junction station to pick up the package from the Red Star parcel depot.

The 808 is a thing of legend. A staple of popular music since its launch. A commercial flop in its day but something that then became a cult success. An electronic device about which a feature film has been made.

It makes an amazing sound. The kick drum able to become played like a bass synth, long and resonant. The snare with its wonderfully named “Snappy” knob. The electronic toms and congas that sound nothing like the real thing. The distinctive Claves and Rimshot. The vicious claps. The ever so synthetic cymbal and hi hat. Even if you know nothing about music, you’ll recognise its distinctive sounds from pop music in the past 40 years.

My own 808 I sadly sold just before I went to University. I got £350 for it. Today it would cost more than ten times that amount. But if I still had it, I wouldn’t sell it.

But this month’s SAE badge is my little tribute (and in the photo it sits upon the RD-8 that I bought last month for fewer pounds than I sold the original). Don’t shout it, but the replica is distinctly better…

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If you would like one of the January #SAE badges, and you live in the UK, then all you need to do is post a stamped, self-addressed envelope to me at 78 Holmesdale Road, TW11 9LG. Please make sure that you correctly stamp the one you send to me if your package is greater than 5mm deep, and you will want to use a Large Letter stamp on the return envelope as the badges are about 7mm thick, and please mark it “January”. There are still some of December’s badges available too.

You can find out more about the #SAE project here.

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