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Rock Stars of the Hammond B3 Organ

Updated on December 3, 2014

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

Hammond B3 Organ - THE VERY BEST OF/ORIGINAL SAMPLES LIBRARY on CD
Hammond B3 Organ - THE VERY BEST OF/ORIGINAL SAMPLES LIBRARY on CD

That Hammond sound is unmistakable on this CD. I love it.

 
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.

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...

Hammond XK-3c 73-Key Portable Keyboard
Hammond XK-3c 73-Key Portable Keyboard

A great little keyboard. Give it a try.

 

The Tippy-Top of Hammond Talent

Who is Your Favorite King of the Hammond B3

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Guestbook for Rock Stars of the Hammond B3 Organ

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    • CYong74 profile image

      Cedric Yong 14 months ago from Singapore

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

    • Joyce Mann profile image
      Author

      Joyce T. Mann 3 years ago from Bucks County, Pennsylvania USA

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

    • Joyce Mann profile image
      Author

      Joyce T. Mann 3 years ago from Bucks County, Pennsylvania USA

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

    • profile image

      FLBluesFan 3 years ago

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

    • profile image

      Pawnbank 4 years ago

      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!

    • profile image

      Pawnbank 4 years ago

      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!

    • profile image

      john-huston-549 4 years ago

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

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      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

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

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

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

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

    • Joyce Mann profile image
      Author

      Joyce T. Mann 5 years ago from Bucks County, Pennsylvania USA

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

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 5 years ago from Southampton, UK

      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.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      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!

    • profile image

      DebtHarassmentLawyer 5 years ago

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

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

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

    • profile image

      grannysage 5 years ago

      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.

    • tvyps profile image

      Teri Villars 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

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

    • tvyps profile image

      Teri Villars 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      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 profile image

      goo2eyes lm 5 years ago

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

    • greenmind profile image

      FCM 5 years ago from USA

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

    • TTMall profile image

      TTMall 5 years ago

      nicely presented lens.

    • Richard-H profile image

      Richard 5 years ago from Surrey, United Kingdom

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

    • profile image

      RobMcKelvie 5 years ago

      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 profile image

      JoyfulPamela2 5 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      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 profile image

      JoyfulPamela2 5 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      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 profile image

      carcamping lm 5 years ago

      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 profile image

      Showpup LM 5 years ago

      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 Mann profile image
      Author

      Joyce T. Mann 5 years ago from Bucks County, Pennsylvania USA

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

    • Joyce Mann profile image
      Author

      Joyce T. Mann 5 years ago from Bucks County, Pennsylvania USA

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

    • goo2eyes lm profile image

      goo2eyes lm 5 years ago

      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 Mann profile image
      Author

      Joyce T. Mann 5 years ago from Bucks County, Pennsylvania USA

      @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

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      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!

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 6 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

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

    • bangcool profile image

      bangcool 6 years ago

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

    • gottaloveit2 profile image

      gottaloveit2 6 years ago

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

    • NYtoSCimjustme profile image

      NYtoSCimjustme 6 years ago

      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 profile image

      Frischy 6 years ago from Kentucky, USA

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

    • Ann Hinds profile image

      Ann Hinds 6 years ago from So Cal

      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 profile image

      vauldine 6 years ago

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

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 6 years ago from Vermont

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

    • profile image

      jseven lm 6 years ago

      Great lens with kickin music! High 5. :)

    • hsschulte profile image

      hsschulte 6 years ago

      Wonderful lens Joyce!

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 6 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Congrats on your FIRST purple star! You rock!

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 6 years ago from Central Florida

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

    • JimDuke profile image

      JimDuke 6 years ago

      I love the Hammond sound too! Love the lens!

    • Joyce Mann profile image
      Author

      Joyce T. Mann 6 years ago from Bucks County, Pennsylvania USA

      @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 profile image

      priscillab 6 years ago

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

    • Joyce Mann profile image
      Author

      Joyce T. Mann 6 years ago from Bucks County, Pennsylvania USA

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

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 6 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

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