A few weeks ago, the widow of electronic music pioneer Bob Moog, Ileana Grams-Moog, announced that she was donating Bob Moog’s archives to the Cornell University. That move upset Michelle Moog-Koussa, the daughter of Bob Moog and the executive director of the Bob Moog Foundation, which has been working for several years to preserve said archives. Background here and here.
No comes Bryan Bell, president of the Bob Moog Foundation’s board of directors. Bell, in his open letters, questions the motives of Grams-Moog and defend’s the Moog Foundation as a qualified keeper of Moog’s records.
An Open Letter from Bryan Bell, President of the Board of Directors, The Bob Moog Foundation
The past three weeks have been hard ones for the children of Bob Moog and the staff, board, and friends of the Bob Moog Foundation (BMF). As President of the BMF Board of Directors, I am profoundly disappointed in Dr. Ileana Grams-Moog’s decision to withdraw her support for the BMF, a not-for-profit organization devoted to perpetuating Bob’s love of music and innovation, the manner in which she chose to do it, and her exclusion of key facts.
I knew Bob well. We were colleagues and friends for more than 30 years. During that time, we collaborated on projects and solved problems that changed the way music is made. I serve on the BMF board because it is the truest representation of Bob’s legacy. That is why I also know how sad it would make him to see what is happening in his name, and why we should all be asking Ileana a few questions.
What’s behind the sudden decision to take the archives away from the BMF?
On Feb. 14, 2013, after 18 months of personally and directly negotiating with Ileana, we agreed upon the BMF’s temporary custody of the archives and management of Bob’s Rights of Publicity (his name, image, signature, and voice). This was the first step towards a much larger agreement between us. In the words of the interim agreement, we were working “together in good faith to define and execute a mutually satisfactory [larger] Agreement as rapidly as possible,” or so I thought.
Suddenly, on February 25, Ileana notified me that she would not sign the interim agreement, based on information she had received from Moog Music President Mike Adams. (Note: Mr. Adams was a BMF board member at the time these discussions took place.) The BMF quickly addressed Ileana’s concerns in writing, concerns that she never voiced to me as the BMF board president and concerns that were later proven to have no basis in fact.
Why was there no consultation with Bob’s children about the future of their father’s archives and his Rights of Publicity?
What about money?
We all agree that Bob’s legacy is priceless, but his share of Moog Music and his Rights of Publicity have price tags. Because Ileana has chosen to publically disclose the BMF’s offer to purchase the archives, I challenge her to disclose the detailed terms, both financially and legally, of her sale of Bob’s share of Moog Music and her sale of Bob’s Rights of Publicity to Mike Adams.
Was there a financial contribution to Cornell from Moog Music regarding the archives? Will Moog Music, for example, have access to the Cornell Archives for their commercial purposes? Will the Bob Moog Foundation and Bob’s children have access to the archives for their own use?
Has The BMF been a good steward of Bob’s archives?
The answer is an unequivocal YES. For seven years The BMF has consistently acted in the best interest of Bob’s legacy, rescuing his archives from moisture, dirt and mildew; storing the archives in secure climate controlled storage; entering into a lease with the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources to secure state-of-the-art archival facilities in Western N.C.; and making the difficult but prudent decision to defer a capital campaign to fund building of the Moogseum.
Ileana has said that her decision to move the archives was based, in part, on the fact that construction has not started on the Moogseum, the eventual Asheville home for Bob’s archives. At no time did she ever communicate that requirement to the BMF Board or me. Furthermore, during her tenure as president of the BMF Board, Ileana personally oversaw the decision to postpone the Moogseum’s capital campaign until the economy recovered from the nation’s worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. The economy aside, great museums take a long time to build. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, for example, took 16 years to plan before breaking ground.
The BMF’s leadership, board and staff have intentionally stayed above the fray, and we encourage our supporters to do the same. Ileana’s decision to move the archives, which was announced in a press release written and distributed by Moog Music’s public relations firm and posted on Moog Music’s website, has unleashed negative comments, many of which raise questions about the role Mike Adams and Moog Music played in Ileana’s sudden change of heart. The BMF has chosen to take the high road, and we will continue to do so, despite many inaccurate comments from Ileana and Mike Adams. That’s what Bob would expect of us. But Ileana’s decision and its timing, the wording of the announcement and the secrecy surrounding its release raise troubling questions about whose interests are really being served by Ileana’s actions.
As for The BMF, we will continue to do what we do best – inspiring and igniting creativity through historic preservation of the Bob Moog Foundation Archives and creating programs like Dr. Bob’s SoundSchool, which introduce children to the power of music, science, and innovation. Nothing would have made Bob happier or prouder.
(Trademarks referred to in this letter are the property of their respective owners)
Bryan Bell, President
Bob Moog Foundation Board of Directors
Bryan Bell is President and Founder of Synth-Bank Consulting, LLC (Synth-Bank®) a technology practice focusing on using technology to enhance business and creative processes. Bryan spent 20 years consulting and pioneering technology innovation for high-profile corporations and entertainers, including Apple, Domain Chandon, NBC, GEIS, Herbie Hancock, Carlos Santana, Neil Young, Branford Marsalis and INXS. He has served continuously for over 20 years on the board of directors of The Bridge School. Bryan holds a DIS from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Business Administration and has been a speaker at conferences around the world. Bryan Bell’s latest music production project, “Duality”, by Nestler and Hawtin was recently released on iTunes.
1. Taking the “high road” doesn’t preclude the possibility of indicating wrongdoing.
2. Pointing out wrongdoing when wrongdoing is occurring is not an “attack.” Also, it seems the first attack came from Grams. The letter from Bell seems like more of a defense to what seem to be false allegations on Grams’ part.
3. When someone makes public statements that are destructive and provably inaccurate, one has to wonder why anyone would defend the person who chose to make the inaccurate statements.
“BMF has chosen to take the high road . . .,” but we reserve the right attack Dr. Moog-Grams publicly with insinuations of wrong doing.