The Linn Drum was actually three drum machines designed and originally built by Roger Linn. The first, was called the Linn LM-1, from 1980. Prince used this one all over the 1999 and Purple Rain albums. Next was the LinnDrum (or as some people called: The LM-2,) from 1982. This was used during Prince’s Purple Rain tour. You can clearly see it in a lot of pictures off to the side of the drummer. And the Linn 9000 came out in 1984. It was able to sample your own sounds. It failed miserably.
The first two pretty much revolutionized the music industry. It was the first machine to sound like an acoustic drum kit. Never before could a singer complete an album as if it was a band, by him or her self. It was crudely sampled @ 28-35kHz and had no MIDI interface. There were kits built later on that you could retrofit MIDI to a LinnDrum. Prior to the Linn machines there was the Roland 808 which was, and still is, huge. But it sounded nothing like acoustic drums. It never intended to. The Linn Drums intended to. The smart drummers out there bought one and learned how to program one. It’s amazing how many Top 10 songs used one. It’s most notable for it’s fast shaker, it’s open & round bass drum and it’s deep, resonant and ever-so-slightly-behind-the-beat snare drum. In recent interviews Roger Linn said he wished he cut out a little bit of the lag in the snare sound. But I think that’s what made the machine so human. No machine has ever come so close to having a “feel.”
- Don’t Lose My Number (Phil Collins’ No Jacket Required)
- Part-Time Lover (Stevie Wonder’s In Square Circle)
- Shock The Monkey (Peter Gabriel’s Security)
- Rock Me Amadeus (Falco’s Falco 3)
- Human (The Human League’s Crash)
- The Safety Dance (Men Without Hats’ Rhythm of Youth)
- Drive (The Cars’ Heartbeat City)
- Little Red Corvette (Prince’s 1999)
- Bang The Drum All Day (Todd Rundgren’s The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect)
- Last Christmas (Wham!’s All-Star Christmas)
A lot of these songs used the Linn LM-1 or the LinnDrum sequenced with other drum machines or acoustic drums overdubbed, FYI. What’s amazing it that each one of these songs pretty much used the same samples. If you listen to these songs, one can hear how drastically a engineer can change a sound, by using compression or reverb or whatever, in the mixing process.