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Digital Keyboards, Forget About It.

Want to talk Monster, Wall of Sound……Hammond organs powered by Leslie Speakers.

The Hammond is an electric organ first manufactured in 1935.  The organ generates sound with a metal tone wheel near an electromagnetic pickup.  Recording these beasts, the mics reveal the the tone wheels firing.  Truly awesome.  Traditionally, Leslie Speakers were used.  The Leslie is configured with an amplifier and speaker cone at the bottom of the cabinet with rotating horns at the top.

Truly one of the most defining keyboards of the 20th century.  Used in Jazz, R n B and Rock.  A signature sound which dictated the sound of greats like Jimmy Smith, Deep Purple, Tower of Power, Booker T. and the MG’s, and Walter Wanderley.

Through the decades I have had the great pleasure and gratitude to be able to work with Cats like that. 

In the 60’s, the organ / drummer duo was personified by Walter Wanderley.  In the 70’s, the unison bass lines performed by Tower of Power’s Roger Smith and bass player Francis Prestia were nothing less than jaw dropping.  The over driven Hammond of Deep Purple, defining.

The major challenge was logistics.  Always, there was a truck or a van that would supply transportation.  And, God forbid, should the gig be in a basement club or an upstairs bar, four of us were needed to lug the thing up or down flights of stairs.

In all my years, the most amazing thing was to play with Tim.  What a Show Man.  He had developed a routine that was featured every night.  He would be in the middle of a solo and turn the Hammond off, sustaining his last notes.   As the band grooved he would let the Leslie tubes slowly die and the rotors slow down and he would jump on top of the Hammond and dance.  Holy Crap, what a spectacle.  He would jump off the organ, turn the Leslie back on, and the Hammond would slowly roar back to life.  Just amazing.  There is no way you could even understand unless you would had witnessed it.

Try that with your Roland VR-730.


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