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Rock Stars of the Hammond B3 Organ

rockstarsofthehammondb3organ

You Say You Want a Revolution

Hammond B3 -- Four syllables that have revolutionized the sound of popular music. Since the first Hammond B3 organ burst onto the musical scene in the mid-1950s, keyboardists and fans alike relished the instrument's power and dexterity. From gospel and rhythm-and-blues, to jazz and progressive rock, the Hammond B3 reigned.

Often combined with Leslie speakers, the Hammond B3 emits a sound that is easily recognized. Jazz artist Jimmy Smith remains the "founding father" the B3. Let's take a look -- and a listen -- to Jimmy Smith. But first, the table of contents.

(photo courtesy of shoulder-synth at wikipedia commons)

Jazz Great Jimmy Smith - The first rock star of the Hammond B3

Jimmy Smith went from church organist to jazz king. Listen to his stylings on the Hammond B3.

Hammond Organ on Amazon

photo of choral register of Hammond B3

photo of choral register of Hammond B3

A Love Affair Begins

Why I Can't Get Enough of the Hammond B3

I grew up in a household of musicians. My dad played the accordion -- my big brother the piano and later the Hammond B3. I began playing the piano by ear at age four. As a teenager coming of age in the 1960s, I was drawn to the hard-driving rhythms of rock n' roll. The sound of the B3 mesmerized me. The electric guitar may have been the lead instrument of choice among rock artists and fans, but for me the Hammond B3 was the true powerhouse of rock and my other love, the blues. And for someone like me, a teenage girl who loved to dance, music featuring the Hammond B3 was all the invitation to the dance floor I needed.

Photo courtesy of salli wikimedia commons

Green Onions by Booker T and the MGs - Booker T. Jones

In the mid-1960s an era-changing instrumental piece hit the charts. It was Green Onions. R&B organist Booker T. Jones and his group, Booker T. and the M.G.s, heralded the age of the Hammond B3 as a rock star among instruments. I imagine a woman in "high-heel shoes and low-neck sweater" to quote Paul McCartnery. She's seated at the bar of a smokey lounge. As she fingers her pearls, her eyes lock with those of a man across the room. Listen to the exchange between the Hammond B3 and the electric guitar. The instruments woo each other.

Hush, Hush...I thought I heard her callin' my name - Deep Purple

Jon Lord was the original organist for the British rock group, Deep Purple. His is a name well known among performers of the Hammond B3. "Hush" starts out with the distant howl of a wolf. What follows is some of the most hard-driving music in rock history. Early in the song, Lord's stylings resemble the low growls of an angry cat. Later he unleashes the full power of the Hammond B3 in his solo. I still dance to this every chance I get.

My favorite Brit of the B3, the late Jon Lord. RIP, my man.

May I have your attention, class? - Hammond B3 organ lesson

After listening to Deep Purple, let's slow down the pace a bit. Here is a Hammond organ tutorial I found online. It's from some website called eHow.

Keith Emerson - Master Technician

By the early ' 70s I was midway through college. Music was changing as were my tastes. One progressive rock group I loved was Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Keith Emerson was their man on the Hammond B3. Of the B3 rock stars, Emerson was the most technically proficient. Here Emerson, Lake and Palmer take on Aaron Copland's "Hoedown" from the ballet "Rodeo." Watching Emerson's fingers dance will make you dizzy, guaranteed.

Green Eyed Lady - Sugarloaf

A popular song to hit the charts in the early '70s was Green Eyed Lady by Sugarloaf. What makes this song stand out is, in my opinion, the originality of the walking bassline. Organist Jerry Corbetta, a founding member of the group, takes great advantage of the bass pedals of the Hammond B3 in creating this bass line. His right-handed staccato is distinctive.

Lee Michaels - Saving the best for last

Lee Michaels. My hero of the Hammond B3. Singer, songwriter and master of the Hammond B3, there wasn't anything Lee Michaels could not do. His music epitomizes the phrase blue-eyed-soul. Unfortunately Michaels is often considered a one-hit wonder. His song "Do You Know What I Mean" was a top-ten hit in 1971. This Youtube video is a bit deceiving -- in that Michaels is seated at a piano -- but I chose it so that you can see what Michaels looked like. In the recording studio, Michaels played both the piano and the B3. (Don't go away! My very favorite Lee Michaels is yet to come!)

Lee Michaels -- The King of the B3 - An entire album side of amazing music

On June 2, 1969, Lee Michaels and his drummer, known simply as Frosty, walked into a recording studio and within hours had a complete album recorded. It was the self-titled "Lee Michaels." As you listen, keep in mind there are only two musicians -- Michaels playing the B3 while singing his own lyrics, and drummer Frosty. "Tell Me How do You Feel" takes you on an emotional journey -- a little rock, a lot of soul. A gem.

rockstarsofthehammondb3organ

Paul D. Mann

My Big Brother

A driving force behind the writing of "Rock Stars of the Hammond B3 Organ" is the memory of my brother, Paul. An amazing musician, my brother never quite made the big time. In the early 1960s, the Hammond B3 Organ became his instrument of choice. Nightly he drove from our home in Pennsylvania to Manhattan where he played keyboards for the house band at the Peppermint Lounge, THE club during the swinging sixties. On a separate occasion, he was asked to be the opening act for Sammy Davis, Jr. at the Valley Forge Music Fair in suburban Philadelphia. The scheduled act had canceled and my brother was asked to fill in -- just Paul D. Mann on the Hammond B3 Organ.

My brother was greatly influenced by the music of Jimmy Smith. And my brother's fluid and effortless use of the right hand reminds me of Lee Michaels'.

My brother passed away suddenly of a heart attack just a few weeks after his 42nd birthday, in June 1982. I have no idea if any professional recordings of his music exist. I will continue researching, and I hope to someday soon add music and photos of my big brother and my first music teacher, Paul.

Hammond B3 Organ - All I wanna hear is music, music, music...

Learn some great techniques. Not for the absolute beginner keyboardist.

The Tippy-Top of Hammond Talent

Guestbook for Rock Stars of the Hammond B3 Organ

Matt Wright on March 29, 2018:

Thanks for this.

Ced Yong from Asia on July 07, 2016:

Hmmm. That embracing warmth of the B3 sound. Truly a magnificent instrument. Thanks for this feature!

Joyce T. Mann (author) from Bucks County, Pennsylvania USA on January 11, 2014:

@anonymous: pART 2 IS MOSTLY A DRUM SOLO BY fROSTY. i SUGGEST GOOGLING SITES TO PURCHASE THE ALBUM.

Joyce T. Mann (author) from Bucks County, Pennsylvania USA on January 11, 2014:

@FLBluesFan: My lens chronicles my personal preferences. I should take a listen to both Greg Allman and Ken Hensley. thaNKS!

FLBluesFan on October 31, 2013:

Blues Rock --- Where's Greg Alman? Prog. Rock --- Ken Hensley was great on the B3 and the Moog.

Pawnbank on August 16, 2013:

It is Jon Lord and his Hammond that made me want to get an organ, and not just my Roland keyboard...

Got a Yamaha Electone but it didn't cut it so I've upgraded to an Elka 707 Artist... the B3 is still a dream though. An amazing instrument and you've covered some fantastic artists!!!

Great lens, thank you!

Pawnbank on August 16, 2013:

It is Jon Lord and his Hammond that made me want to get an organ, and not just my Roland keyboard...

Got a Yamaha Electone but it didn't cut it so I've upgraded to an Elka 707 Artist... the B3 is still a dream though. An amazing instrument and you've covered some fantastic artists!!!

Great lens, thank you!

john-huston-549 on August 07, 2013:

"Chest Fever" by "The Band." 1966. The definitive Hammond B3 piece. IMO.

anonymous on April 09, 2013:

Hello! thank you for this web page and for let me listen these beautiful songs.

I'm interesting in Lee Michaels, can you give me more info about that album?

Do you know where can i buy?

P.S. the video is called Tell Me How Do You Feel -part 1 so is this not the entire song?

BYE! and good music

P.S. you call

anonymous on April 01, 2013:

Great lens! I love the Hammond organ sound too. A couple more I'd add to the list are Goldie McJohn of Steppenwolf and Vincent Crane of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown and Atomic Rooster. I never knew Lee Michaels was a Hammond player.

anonymous on January 31, 2013:

What's up w/ no felix cavaliere or mark stein...???? I mean duh!!!!!!

anonymous on July 17, 2012:

Had to come back to mark the passing of Jon Lord. I am very sad. Condolences to his family.

Joyce T. Mann (author) from Bucks County, Pennsylvania USA on June 25, 2012:

@anonymous: Lorena Lavora...thank you! Your kind comments made my day.

anonymous on June 25, 2012:

Wow - what a find! I'm a B3 nut, too. Found you looking for Lee Michaels "where are they now" info. (Apparently, he opened a restaurant called Killer Shrimp - go figure!) Saw Lee and Jon Lord as often as they came to NYC back in the 60s-70s. I would add to this wonderful list Dr. Lonnie Smith and Joey Defrancesco!

Tony Payne from Southampton, UK on April 13, 2012:

Excellent lens and it's good to find someone else who has great music taste. My Dad used to play the Hammond Organ, and also used to service and repair them back in the 1960s/70's. Have you heard Jon Lord's solo album "Sarabande"? It's more Baroque style but excellent. Very nice lens, blessed.

DebtHarassmentLawyer on April 07, 2012:

Ken Hensley is worthy of including among these stars. Thanks for including Lee Michaels (very under rated)

JoshK47 on March 30, 2012:

Gotta love organ in rock music - wonderful lens! Blessed by a SquidAngel!

grannysage on March 18, 2012:

A lovely trip down memory lane. The organ definitely added something special to rock music. I like the way Ritchie Blackmore and Jon Lord played the guitar and organ in tandem.

Teri Villars from Phoenix, Arizona on March 09, 2012:

A lot of info here, very nice for the student! Squid Angel blessed!

Teri Villars from Phoenix, Arizona on March 09, 2012:

I thought for the longest time that I was the only sappy lover of the organ. I catch myself watching Lawrence Welk and feeling good. I am glad I'm not the only. I can see why this lens got a purple star, very very nicely done!

goo2eyes lm on March 09, 2012:

blessings for the winner of the purple star and to your dear brother.

GreenMind Guides from USA on February 27, 2012:

YES! This is my kind of lens. More Deep Purple!

TTMall on February 25, 2012:

nicely presented lens.

Richard from Surrey, United Kingdom on February 17, 2012:

You've included some of my musical favourites. Blessed!

RobMcKelvie on February 04, 2012:

Very nice lens, Joyce. So sorry to hear about your brother's death at 42. He must have been a very fine musician. I enjoyed the exposure to your musical selections; a few of them were quite familiar. I was surprised a bit by the large role these organs have played in songs.

JoyfulPamela2 from Pennsylvania, USA on January 28, 2012:

I love listening to organ sounds! It's really cool that your brother played at Valley Forge Music Fair. That used to be my favorite place to go to concerts before they took it down. =D

JoyfulPamela2 from Pennsylvania, USA on January 28, 2012:

I love listening to organ sounds! It's really cool that your brother played at Valley Forge Music Fair. That used to be my favorite place to go to concerts before they took it down. =D

carcamping lm on January 20, 2012:

This was just the coolest lens! I love these songs and never thought about their composition. Deep Purple and Hush was one of my favorites and I still listen to it today!

Showpup LM on January 20, 2012:

I was totally immersed in this lens from start to finish. Your passion for the Hammond B3 Organ and music in general is evident in every word. I also enjoyed listening to the music. Your brother would be proud! I hope you find the recordings you are looking for but, I suspect, they could never compare to the recordings you already have stored in your heart.

Joyce T. Mann (author) from Bucks County, Pennsylvania USA on January 16, 2012:

@anonymous: Peter, what a treat to have heard John Fogerty in concert. Lucky you. Joyce

Joyce T. Mann (author) from Bucks County, Pennsylvania USA on January 07, 2012:

@goo2eyes lm: Thank you! I never thought of the archival approach!

goo2eyes lm on January 07, 2012:

i am really sorry for your brother but hopefully, his legacy will live on thru his music. i am sure that there are some recordings existing in the archives of valley forge music fair in pennsylvania.

Joyce T. Mann (author) from Bucks County, Pennsylvania USA on December 24, 2011:

@anonymous: Dan, you may very well be correct. I will double check the information. Because my brother played bass using only the pedals of the Hammond B-3, I made the assumption that was the norm. Thank you

anonymous on December 23, 2011:

Have to add a correction comment about Lee Michaels. I understand he played bass with his left hand, and not bass pedals. Jimmy Smith played bass pedals. Lee had a Kruger bass installed on his Hammond and played bass with his left hand. I also played pedals, and it is easier to play bass with the left hand, like Ray Manzarek/Doors did playing live.

anonymous on November 22, 2011:

I recently attended a John Fogerty concert and was amazed to see a full sized Hammond complete with Leslie on tour. What a sound! Nothing but a real Hammond will do. It preserved the sound of the time wonderfully and the keyboardist was having a great time bouncing up and down behind it. Fantastic show!

Laraine Sims from Lake Country, B.C. on August 18, 2011:

Wonderful music. I hope that you are successful in finding the professional recordings of you brother.

bangcool on August 10, 2011:

I love watching this video. I just know them here.. Really great collection

gottaloveit2 on August 09, 2011:

What a beautiful tribute to your brother. He obviously lives on through you.

NYtoSCimjustme on August 08, 2011:

I never realized that an organ was so instrumental in some of my favorite classic rock tunes... Thanks for sharing a great lens, and good luck in the search for your brother's musical legacy. I lost a brother young also and I miss him every day.

Frischy from Kentucky, USA on August 08, 2011:

This is cool! It makes me want to get one of these for my daughter.

Ann Hinds from So Cal on August 08, 2011:

Mentioned the HB3 to my husband who gave me a bunch of music trivia. I wasn't even aware he knew what it was. Great lens. Now if I could only get him to shut up.

vauldine on June 23, 2011:

This si the most georgeous presentationof the Hammond orgaN I have evr read superb description.

Lee Hansen from Vermont on May 06, 2011:

You forgot Gregg Allman - my hubby's fave HB3 player. Great lens, brought back plenty of music memories for me.

jseven lm on April 12, 2011:

Great lens with kickin music! High 5. :)

hsschulte on April 12, 2011:

Wonderful lens Joyce!

Nancy Carol Brown Hardin from Las Vegas, NV on April 11, 2011:

Congrats on your FIRST purple star! You rock!

Virginia Allain from Central Florida on April 11, 2011:

Wow, congratulations on the purple star, Joyce! This is just great.

JimDuke on April 07, 2011:

I love the Hammond sound too! Love the lens!

Joyce T. Mann (author) from Bucks County, Pennsylvania USA on April 06, 2011:

@priscillab: Thank you, Priscilla. I have yet to check with my brother's friend Chaz. Chaz is the one remaining member of my brother's high-school rock band.

priscillab on April 05, 2011:

Joyce, this lens shows your love of organs! Excellent job. I hope you do find recordings of your brothers. What a sweet story!

Joyce T. Mann (author) from Bucks County, Pennsylvania USA on April 05, 2011:

@Nancy Hardin: Thank you, Nancy! You are so kind.

Nancy Carol Brown Hardin from Las Vegas, NV on April 05, 2011:

Joyce, I absolutely adore this lens, because of course, the music is just dyamite! Thank you for sharing, I'm favoriting this one.

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