The Culling X: Organic

September 11, 2008

I’m well into the instrumental section of my collection. I survived accordions, banjos, carillons, drums, flutes, guitars, harmonicas, harps, harpsichords, and kazoos (only one LP thankfully) and now I’m into organs (go ahead, make your jokes). I’ve subdivided organs into electronic and pipe sections (I used to have street organs here too but I decided it made more sense to put them in a section of their own along with music boxes and other mechanical instruments).

The electronic section is dominated by Hammond players but includes many other makes from Allen to Yamaha.

Johnny Dupont: All Stops Out!

Does “Johnny Dupont” exist? I have yet to find any biographical info on him on the internet. Maybe he was a fictitious identity made up for some anonymous studio musician for some obscure reason. The liner notes claim Dupont was a native of Troy, New York, a graduate of the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, and still a teen. I really like his swinging versions of Caravan, Bluesette and others.

Walt Reneker on The Electrohome Console

Electrohome was a Canadian electronics company that mostly manufactured televisions, but they also made home organs into the 1970s. This record demonstrates many of the special effects possible with the Electrohome Richelieu organ.

Walt Reneker

The “Rhythm King” – a device with 17 different rhythms which could be used manually as a metronome with the organist following the beat, or automatically with the beat following the organist’s lead.

Demos Pay Off

Another demonstration record, this one for salesmen selling Lowrey organs.

Excerpt from “Mr. Virtuoso – Mr. and Mrs. Smith”

“Lookee here!”

“Don’t display too much musical ability.”

Maurice Montez: The Groovy Organ Goes Romantic

The young lady is leaning on an Italian-made Panther Combo 300 organ. Maurice’s jazzy version of Moon River rocks my world.

George Wright: Encores

George Wright, dean of theatre organists, next to a Wurlitzer organ console. This was George’s look circa 1956.

George Wright: Now’s The Right Time

And this was his look in 1969 – keeping up with the times, both sartorially and musically. Songs include Light My Fire, Mission: Impossible, Time Is Tight, and the theme from Mannix. Inasmuch as anything played on a pipe organ can rock, this record totally does.

Jonas Nordwall: Omnificent

It seems a lot of 1920s movie palace organs ended up in pizza parlors.The Wurlitzer console on the left, originally in the Metropolitan Theatre in Boston, made its way to the Organ Grinder Restaurant in Portland, OR, which closed in 1996. The one on the right, in the Organ Grinder in Denver CO, was from Portland’s Paramount Theatre. The Denver Organ Grinder opened in 1979 and closed a few years later.

Richard Ellsasser: The Thundering Pipe Organ

The instrument on this record is a 10,000 pipe organ built for John Hays Hammond Jr. (no relation to Laurens Hammond, inventor of the Hammond organ). Hammond Jr. was a wealthy inventor (something to do with radio control) who used part of his fortune to build a medieval-style castle on the New England coastline near Gloucester, MA. The organ is housed in and around a great hall dating from the 13th century. Today, Hammond Castle is a museum. To clarify: even though it’s called the Hammond pipe organ, it’s not a Hammond organ.

Wolfgang Oehms: The Historic Bamboo Organ of Las Piñas (Philippines)

The world’s only bamboo pipe organ (only the trumpet stops are made from metal). Built by a parish priest, completed in 1824. In the 1880s, earthquakes and typhoons rendered the organ unplayable. Many unprofessional repairs were done on it throughout the 20th century. In 1973 it was shipped to Germany for complete restoration and it was returned to the Philippines in 1975. To my (untrained) ear it doesn’t sound much different from a conventional pipe organ.

The listened: 1323
The loved: 1005
The lamented: 318


6 Responses to “The Culling X: Organic”

  1. Humuhumu Says:

    I hope you’ve enjoyed your culling process as much as I’ve enjoyed your culling posting. This post is an exceptionally good one, thank you! I’m a sucker for organs. I loved going to the Pizza & Pipes in Seattle when I was a little kid. (In addition to the organ, they also had a bubble machine, a la Lawrence Welk. I always requested “Clementine.” I’m not sure why, I suspect it was just the only song that the organist & I both knew.)

    Interesting that the bamboo organ sounds about the same as a metal one, I would have imagined it sounding all wind-chimey. Only, y’know, less annoying, and more… bassoony?

  2. swankola Says:

    Thanks for your reminiscences of the Pizza & Pipes (here’s a link from the wonderful Puget Sound Theatre Organ Society website). It seems that pizza parlors with theatre organs suffered the same fate as classic tiki bars. The only one I could find that’s still open is Organ Stop Pizza in Mesa, AZ.

    I too was expecting the bamboo organ to sound more “reedy”.

  3. Walt Reneker Says:

    Hi there,

    enjoy your blog!

    Here’s a myspace page with some nice sonic samples from my album:

    Best regards,


  4. Alan Ashton Says:

    I would be interested in obtaining downloads of three of the organ recordings you have listed. Is this allowed and if so, how do I go about doing so? I failed to find a way to do this…but then at my age that is normal!.

  5. jim Says:

    I found that “Groovy Organ..” at a goodwill recently. Pity there are no Panther organ tracks on it. Still, love the cover!

  6. Frank DeBole Says:

    Hey, was just doing a search on Johnny Dupont, and came across your blog. Yeah he used to live down the street from us in Rochester New York. I don’t remember much, but my dad talks about how he would bring the organ out and play for the neighborhood. It’s kinda funny, because my dad was just asking if I had listened to the CD he made for me from the album.

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