Trade Regrets: Paul Tanner
Tanner joined Glenn Miller’s newly formed band in 1938 and recorded all of the band’s hits, including “In the Mood” and “String of Pearls.” Later on, after attending and matriculating from UCLA, Paul served as a teacher there for nearly 30 years. Among his students was a young songwriter named Brian Wilson who was forming a band and took an interest in the electronic music Paul would play in class.
Paul is responsible for developing the Electro-Theremin, which was operated by a wire in the back and not by waving your hands as the original Theramin required. Paul felt this made his instrument more consistent to start and end on the same tone, which is just what Brian Wilson was looking for to begin his now classic recording of “Good Vibrations.” Paul’s Box (as Tanner liked to call the Electro-Theremin) was also used in several movies and on the TV series “My Favorite Martian” before Paul donated it to a local hospital for hearing tests. It is thought that the instrument was destroyed in the 1989 LA earthquake.
To view a segment from Paul Tanner’s 2001 NAMM Oral History interview click here.