My First Hammond
Around the same time as getting my driver's license I bought my first Hammond Organ & Leslie. This was a big step into sounding more professional and allowed me to forge my way into serious bands and gigs. The Hammond itself was a chopped-down M-100 that could fit into my mom's 1972 Valiant, which I was allowed to drive at 16. The Leslie fit in the back as well and I could drive to band auditions or gigs. And there truly is nothing like the sound and feel of a Hammond/Leslie combination. It's the sound on so many records from blues to jazz to rock to progressive rock to R&B. I was suddenly able to nail parts from records without any problem at all and I sounded legit. On top of that the Leslie itself was loud enough of an amp to keep up with guitar and bass amps while drummers bashed out beats. There is also something about playing Hammond that makes you lean into the instrument as you coax out chords and build the song with inversions and smears across the keyboard. And with my Cordovox Piano on top, I now was an actual Keyboard Player with a multi-keyboard stack. Development of my playing continued to evolved as I would hold chords on the M-100 with my left hand and play piano parts with my right. There is a different kind of two-hand independence involved. I became more aware of listening to my left hand rather than thinking about what I was playing. I became aware of hearing my parts against what other musicians were playing and this helped develop my "stage ear" - which in-turn made me a much better player. I couldn't just play a lot of notes on a couple of keyboard instruments. The parts had to fit, had to compliment what was happening under the vocals.