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Bob Baker Music Archive

Last year I got the chance to visit the Bob Baker Marionette Theater in Los Angeles. If you've never been there before, it's quite an experience and I highly recommend checking it out! If you're in LA this weekend, stop by March 29th - Synth History will have a pop-up table there! More info.

Of course, the music archive room in particular was something I was really excited about visiting. Winona Bechtle goes into more detail below. But before that, here's a little history:

While attending Hollywood High School, Bob Baker began manufacturing toy marionettes that sold both in Europe and the United States. Baker served as an animation advisor at many film studios, including Disney. His puppetry was featured on TV in Bewitched, Star Trek, Land of the Giants and NCIS; and on film in Bluebeard, A Star Is Born, G.I. Blues, Disney's Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Bob Baker Music Archives

Bob Baker Music Archives

Synth History: Can you tell me about this room?

Winona Bechtle: This is the music archive, it houses about 5,000 LPs that were all part of Bob Baker's collection that we use to make our show soundtracks. It's not just LPs. At the top of the ceiling there's VHS tapes of shows that he worked on and things that I think he just probably recorded and found inspirational.

Even though we're most well known for our puppet shows, we have a 75 year history in film and television, that's just as robust and significant as our live shows. Bob was instrumental in doing practical effects for things like the first televised episode of Star Trek, we did the aliens for Close Encounters of the Third Kind, worked on Zabriskie Point. We did a lot of work with Disney, both at the park when it opened in 1955 but also on films like Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Escape to Witch Mountain, etc.

Part of the reason why he has so much music is, yes, it's for our puppet shows, but he was also just someone who was interested in culture, music, history and film. There's a ton of film soundtracks. There's Wendy Carlos, we have so much good Moog music. There's an album in here somewhere that's all just like, "Country Moog", it has an amazing Moog cover of "Wichita Lineman" that I've definitely played on my show before. It's so good.

Bob Baker Music Archives

Bob Baker Marionette Theater

I've explored this archive a little bit, but you know, there are so many, how do you scratch the surface!? We started to do a monthly radio show with Dublab each second Sunday of every month and it's with music pulled exclusively from this archive. We don't want this stuff to just sit here, where nobody looks at it and nobody even knows we have these things. It's a part of our philosophy. We're a museum and an archive, but it's a living archive. We always want people to be able to get excited and laugh, because some of it is funny stuff, I'm not gonna lie. There's a lot of circus music. Who doesn't want to hear Circus Clown Calliope Volume Il? [laughs] It's a lot of novelty, it's a lot of synth stuff, it's what you'd expect to find at a puppet theater. This room is continuing to be really explored, even some of the stuff we've pulled here today l've never seen and I moved all these records.

From the Synth History Issue Three. Interview conducted by Danz.

Photos by Danz.


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