Johnny Winter Interview [Audio] plus Heinz Rohrer (CEO of Thorens Turntables [Print]) [Listen 26:42] – S02 Ep09 Climbing Up Curtains and Cutting Off Fingers with Johnny Winter
Interview Date: May 4, 2012 @2pm EDT
Special Guest: (Audio) Johnny Winter (Part 1 of 1) - Johnny Winter is one of the biggest names in blues; this Texas born blues guitarist has played with all the greats and was a leader in the 1960's blues revival. He has produced and played on four records for Muddy Waters and one for Sonny Terry (often winning a Grammy). He blew people away with his performance at Woodstock, and has jammed with people like Jimi Hendrix, Michael Bloomfield, Eric Clapton, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. It's been reported that he received the biggest signing contract and advancement ever given to an artist at the time. Winter's impact runs deep. He was gracious enough to give GoingThruVinyl an exclusive interview about his latest release and offer a peek into the history of the blues. http://www.johnnywinter.net/
On May 1, 2012 he released his newest album "Roots" (latest release in seven years), a record that brings together many of the artists and songs that he grew up listening to and admired. Winter and I cover the tracks on "Roots" and talk about the blues men that he has known (both on the album and throughout his career). Winter, known as not being one of the most talkative persons, got pretty animated at points in this interview and revealed some amazing stories and insight into the blues legends from a insider perspective.
Special Guest: (Print) Heinz Rohrer CEO and Owner of Thorens Turntables (Part 1 of 2)- Started in 1883 by Hermann Thorens in Switzerland, the company Thorens and their Phonographs (Turntables) have been innovating and pushing High-end audio into the 21 Century. Recently they have been designing some of the most elegant, beautifully sounding, and desirable record players on the market today. I was lucky enough to land a rare interview with Mr. Rohrer and he was kind enough to answer my questions (Translated into English. His native tongue is Swiss German). http://www.thorens.com/
Thorens Turntable Interview - GoingThruVinyl's conversation with Heinz Rohrer
I have been thinking about turntables and which one I would buy in today’s market for quite some time. The list of excellent turntable manufacturers is long, and the technological breakthroughs and improvements over the past couple of years are nothing short of extraordinary. The advancements in technology, design, quality, and jaw-dropping style that you can get these days from the high-end stereo market compared to ten years ago is greater than imagined. Which brings me to this company and the turntables that impresses me the most these days: the Swiss brand “Thorens” and their new acrylic turntable lines (TD 2015, TD 2035) and the TD 309.
I was lucky enough to get a written interview with the CEO of Thorens, Heinz Rohrer. We talk about what design decisions go into making a Thorens turntable and their long history of their company being a key component in refining the classic record player.
GTV - Thorens’ history goes all the way back to Switzerland in 1883 and its musical roots were planted right from the beginning. The late 19th century was a time when Swiss engineering had established itself as being known for their quality and craftsmanship with precision made objects like watches and clocks. Can you tell me what kind of man Hermann Thorens was, and about how the company came into existence?
Heinz Rohrer - Mr. Thorens was born some 3 or 4 generations before I was born, therefore I did not know him well (joke) and documents from this time are not available anymore in detail. He founded his family business 1883 with the purpose of manufacturing musical boxes and movements. The place he lived with his family and where he founded his company, the region called Jura at the French part of Switzerland is still known as cluster with many watch making and precision engineering companies. No doubt he was known as an excellent entrepreneur running a leading company in the region at that time.
GTV - Besides musical boxes, the company produced quite a few other products that were also quite successful as well. What are some other things (besides Turntables) that it produced?
Heinz Rohrer - During the first decades Thorens produced the first Edison type phonographs, manufacturing horn-gramophones for shellac records. Cigarette lighters and harmonicas were also in the sales assortment at that time. A highlight of the company history is the development of the first electric motor (direct drive) for gramophones, first electronic phono pick up using a magnet principle. Somewhere in the late 1940’s production of a professional disc-cutting machines and the first record changer. To be mentioned is also the production of the first mechanical razor. (yes shaver)
GTV - What was the first Thorens turntable model called and when was it brought out?
Heinz Rohrer - 1906 the horn gramophones or 1928 the first direct drive (no name/type available at the documents remained in Thorens possession.)
GTV - The Thorens Company has always been a cutting-edge and forward thinking company. Can you tell me about some of the early technological breakthroughs that Thorens has made in the early days of turntable technologies? i.e. You could talk about - (1928) Developed the first Direct Drive electric motor and first electronic phono pick-up.
Heinz Rohrer - this is correct and to be added the TD 124 introduced 1957 which revolutionized the production of turntables
GTV - Thorens is now an institution in the audiophile world; what role do you play in the company?
Heinz Rohrer - I am the owner of the brand name Thorens as well as CEO for business operation.
GTV - The stresses and challenges of running a successful company in such a competitive market must be immense and time consuming. Can you/Do you still take time to enjoy listening to records?
Heinz Rohrer - Of course I do. Everything else would be sad. A nice side effect of my job is, that during one third of my time I’m at the markets during shows or visiting distributors and their customers. There I always listen to record but of course also at home a Thorens turntable turns regularly. .
Come back next week for part 2 of our article with the CEO of Thorens, Heinz Rohrer, as well as our interview with Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead!
Here's some of the best examples of the people Johnny and I talk about. enjoy.
And this one needs to be seen (in a new window) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFhnatkQ2b8
A good page of historical Thorens machines http://keithwright.ca/Thorens/radiophonomania/tranradiophono.html
Early Thorens accessories http://hermannthorens.com/