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The 1960's Rock Organ



Twelve songs from the sixties pop and rock scene in which the organ played a central or seductive role. From the more obscure like Vanilla Fudge and Arthur Brown to the more mainstream like Steve Winwood and The Monkees, these tracks are just a brief sentimental journey that attempts to elevate the oft-times nerdy bespectacled keyboardist to some kind of rock hero. A bit whimsical, with some noteworthy omissions, this playlist gives this former teen combo organ player great joy.

The Rascals: Good Lovin'
The first of three #1 hits for The Rascals, Good Lovin' was the song that really brought recognition to the band. Rascal Felix Cavaliere played organ and is credited for "discovering" the tune when he heard The Olympics' version of it on the radio.

Steppenwolf: Magic Carpet Ride
Created by the hard rock Canadian-American band Steppenwolf, the song features original keyboardist Goldy McJohn on organ. Although McJohn started out as a classically trained pianist, he was well-known during his years with Steppenwolf for his innovative work on the Hammond B3 organ. Released in 1968, the song reach No.3 on the US charts.

Question Mark & the Mysterians: 96 Tears
In 1966, 96 Tears reached the top of the Billboard pop charts. Legend has it that the song was recorded in the living room of the head of a local record label. Over the years there have been serious debates whether Frank Rodriquez is working with a Farfisa or Vox Continental organ in the recording.

Vanilla Fudge: You Keep Me Hangin' On
B-3 organist and lead singer for Vanilla Fudge, Mark Stein, came to the organ by happenstance at a very young age. His deliciously tactile and melodramatic style on the Hammond influenced subsequent metal and hard rock bands such as Deep Purple.

The Spencer Davis Group: I'm a Man
Organist and vocalist Steve Winwood met his fellow band mates at the ripe old age of 15. Along with his brother, Muff Winwood, Steve began playing with the Rhythm and Blues Quartette soon to be known as The Spencer Davis Group. Although the band originated in England, their music drew influence from the kind of soulful blues created in the American South. This hit single, released in 1967, was on the final record by The Spencer Davis Group to feature Winwood, who subsequently left the band to form Traffic.

The Monkees: (I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone
Originally recorded by Paul Revere & the Raiders, this song was made into a hit by The Monkees in 1966. The Monkees' drummer Micky Dolenz was the only Monkees member to actually perform on the track. Producer Bobby Hart plays the organ part.

Al Kooper: Green Onions
This song appears on the blues-rock album that was recorded live and entitled, The Live Adventures of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper. The song was originally written and released by Booker T. & the M.G.'s on an album released in 1962. It has subsequently been covered by numerous artists, such as the ubiquitous 60s organ master Al Kooper, and has frequently appeared in movies, ads and television.

The Crazy World of Arthur Brown: Fire
Lead singer Arthur Brown often performed the song wearing an elaborate flaming crown to go along with his image as the "god of hell fire." Fire additionally features Vincent Crane (born Vincent Cheesman) on the Hammond organ. A self-taught pianist, Crane graduated from Trinity College with two degrees in music. Brown and Crane met in 1966, and Crane was impressed by Brown’s captivating theatrics. When the song was initially released it only credited Brown and Crane as its co-writers, although fellow band members claimed a hand in its completion as well.

The Doors: When The Music's Over
The lively organ intro, performed by the band's organist Ray Manzarek, is often compared to a similar riff from Door's song Soul Kitchen. This track is The Doors' third longest recorded song. Manzarek passed away on May 20, 2013.

The Who: Baba O’Riley
Often mistakenly referred to as Teenage Wasteland, Baba O’Riley was groundbreaking as one of the first times on record that a "rhythm machine" was used as a base track for a song. Pete Townshend discovered the effect on a Lowrey home organ (model TBO-1) and programmed a pattern-based riff (pre-synthesizer!). One strike of any note results in three quick notes

Procol Harum: A Whiter Shade of Pale
Released in 1967, this song soared to #1 on UK Singles Charts. The song was proclaimed winner of the Best British Pop Song Single 1952-1977, along with Bohemian Rhapsody. Procol Harum’s organist, Matthew Fisher, started out his musical career on the bass guitar. He later fell in love with the bluesy style of bands like The Animals, which inspired his move to the Vox Continental organ. Fisher eventually graduated to the Hammond M102, featured on this track.

The Beatles: Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite
John Lennon was inspired to write the song when he encountered an old circus poster in an antiques shop. The band originally wanted an authentic steam organ for the song, but settled on a Lowrey organ for Lennon. The song also features George Martin on the Hammond organ and spliced tapes of fairground organs and calliope music.

Dedicated to my fellow band members of The Inner Circle, 1966-68, of Evanston, Illinois: Doug Cooper, Gary Quateman, and Andre Voynovich.
 

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