The 1960's were the era of the combo organ and electric piano, and nearly every band traveled and recorded with a keyboard by Farfisa, Vox, Hohner, Wurlitzer, Gibson or Lowrey.
A Hammond B-3 was too heavy and too expensive to easily transport, so the lighter combo organs were the perfect substitute.
And none was more prestigious than the Vox Continental, played by The Animals, the Beatles, the Dave Clark Five, Paul Revere & the Raiders, Iron Butterfly, the Doors, and other leading bands of the day. In 1966 a Bay City, Michigan garage band - the Mysterians - recorded one of their original songs, at first called "Too Many Teardrops", in their manager's basement studio.
Written four years earlier by Rudy Martinez (Question Mark), the song was supposed to be the B-side, but Martinez insisted that "96 Tears" be the A-side, and aggressively promoted the single across Michigan, encouraging radio stations to play it.
Propelled by a catchy riff on the Vox Continental, the song became a #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and an especially huge hit among U.S. There are three different sections in each Verse, each with its own organ part - the famous unison organ line is one of those three. Another of the biggest retro classics from the mid-1960's is "Louie Louie" - the world's most recorded rock song, with over 1600 versions.
It's similar to "96 Tears" in that a local garage band recorded it, and rode its fame to the top of the charts. In 1963 a Portland, Oregon band split the $50 cost of recording "Louie Louie" in a local studio.
The keyboard player, who used a Hohner Pianet L electric piano, was Don Gallucci, who six years later would lead the prog rock band, Touch.
Even though "Louie Louie" is one of retro rock's greatest classics, you might wonder why I bothered to transcribe it.
Also included in the transcription for comparison is how The Kingsmen performed "Louie Louie" after Don Galluci left - using a different rhythm pattern in the Verses. I also played piano on "Hawthorne", which uses some Brian Wilson-style chord changes and piano voicings. The album by The Relationship is now being mixed in New York City, and will be released soon.
As early as age five Jerry Lee's natural talent on the piano was so obvious that his parents mortgaged their modest home to purchase him a piano, which he practiced diligently. He played both gospel and "the Devil's music", as his mother, a Pentecostal preacher, called it. However, he performed a boogie-woogie version of "My God Is Real" at a church assembly one evening and was expelled from school the next morning.
When he was 21, he believed that it was important for Sam Phillips to hear him, and his dad sold 30 dozen eggs to pay for a trip to Memphis.
Sam Phillips immediately recognized the powerful, primal talent of Jerry Lee and started using him as a session pianist for other Sun artists such as Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash. Then in 1957 Jerry Lee had the hit that would break his career open and catapult him to the top of the charts - "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" - complete with the most electrifying piano solo that had yet been recorded.
That same year he also released the biggest hit of his career, "Great Balls of Fire", and the old honky-tonk classic, "Drinkin' Wine, Spo-Dee-O-Dee", which contained not just one piano solo but two - both cleanly played with classic licks by "The Killer" - his playing was still at its best in 1957. If you're a fan of Carrie Underwood, you might be interested in the Electric Piano riff from one of her biggest hits, "Undo It". The guitar, bass, and electric piano kick off the song with a funky riff that underpins every Verse. In 1970 Ian Anderson, the leader of Jethro Tull, talked his friend, classically-educated pianist John Evan, into quitting school - King's College London - and joining his band.
During his first year with the band, Evan composed the classic piano introduction to "Locomotive Breath", having achieved this task in the studio while some of the other band members were out to lunch. But he must have enjoyed the gig, as John Evan was the rock-solid keyboardist for Tull for the next ten years, until 1980. Famous for his outfit in concerts - white suit, yellow shirt underneath and pink-and-yellow polka dot tie - Anderson would refer to him as "everyone's favorite ice cream salesman" during band introductions in concerts.
Evan would do lots of theatrics during concerts and he certainly had a lot of onstage presence, but apparently once he left his piano, he was an extremely introverted and shy man.
After leaving Jethro Tull in 1980, Evan gave up music professionally and started his own construction company. If you're a fan of Toby Keith, you might be interested in a very accurate and detailed chord chart for one of his songs, "American Soldier".
This chord chart is perfect if you're in a cover band and would like to accurately perform the song.
Richard Penniman - destined to become Little Richard - was born and raised in Macon, Georgia, one of twelve children in a very religious family.
Always musical, Richard sang in church at an early age, and was very influenced by gospel performers, including Mahalia Jackson and his favorite, Sister Rosetta Tharpe. When he was 14, Tharpe heard him sing and asked him to open for her at a Macon concert - his first paid public performance - and it was of all gospel songs.
In his mid-teens, Richard was ordered to move out of the family home by his father, a church deacon who owned a nightclub and bootlegged moonshine. Although Richard had begun recording in 1951 at age 19, he had still not yet had a hit as of 1955. Lloyd Price, who had written and recorded the #1 R&B hit "Lawdy Miss Clawdy", suggested that Richard send a two-song demo to Price's label, Specialty Records. Art Rupe, the owner of Specialty, teamed Richard with producer 'Bumps' Blackwell, and nine months later "Tutti-Frutti" was a smash hit - the first of many. Richard's electrifying piano style used jackhammer-fast triplets - both octaves and chords - and often his Right Hand would descend the keyboard in clusters. Years later, in 1994, Little Richard and Lloyd Price appeared together on the Sally Jesse Raphael TV Show, and performed "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" together - Price's song whose success had made both their careers possible.
Price's original recording used Fats Domino on piano, but Richard's more driving piano style brings a new level of energy to "Miss Clawdy". If you're a fan of Horace Silver, the great hard-bop jazz pianist, you might be interested in a little snippet of one of his songs, "Senor Blues". And if you're intrigued by the difficult technique of fast repeated notes on the piano, check out my new exercise to teach you exactly how it's done. Although Peter Frampton had been in successful rock bands for ten years, including Humble Pie, he'd never had a hit on his own until 1976. The tour began the following month - January 1976 - and was recorded, resulting in the release of Frampton's biggest hit ever, "Do You Feel Like We Do (Live)", from "Frampton Comes Alive", certified six times platinum. The album version was 14 minutes long, and contained one of rock's most creative and best-played Fender-Rhodes electric piano solos ever.
He had aspirations of attending Juilliard, but a serious auto accident the summer before his senior year in high school forced a change of plans. Earlier in his teens, influenced by the British musical invasion, he had begun playing with various rock bands, and while recuperating, he taught himself guitar.
After joining Frampton's band, at age 24, and experiencing the enormous success of "Do You Feel Like We Do (Live)", Mayo toured and recorded non-stop with Frampton for five years, including the "I'm in You" and "Where I Should Be" albums. In 1980 Mayo took a break from touring with Frampton for some serious r & r, and recorded with Joe Walsh, Joe Vitale and Foreigner. Subsequent years saw tours with Foreigner, Aerosmith, Robert Plant, Dan Fogelberg, and Hall and Oates. In 1992 Bob re-teamed with Frampton, and recorded and toured with him until his untimely death from a heart attack during a Frampton world tour in Switzerland in 2004, at age 52.
His Fender-Rhodes electric piano solo in "Do You Feel Like We Do (Live)" is testament to his exceptional talent. Of all the musicians that Bruce Springsteen has played with, he played longest with Danny Federici - 40 years, from 1968 to 2008.
When Federici was seven, he started to play accordion, which he learned from watching The Lawrence Welk Show. A prodigy, he won Ted Mack's "Original Amateur Hour", and as a teen began playing in bands, playing everything from polkas to rock-n-roll. When he was 18, he met Bruce Springsteen, who was only four months older, and invited him to join his band.
They played in various bands together until Bruce's E Street Band was formed in 1972, and the rest is history. In the key of C, the song modulates up to E-flat for Danny's organ solo, and then modulates back to C right after the solo. A multi-instrumentalist child prodigy with perfect pitch, he signed with Motown at age 11, had his first #1 hit on the Hot 100 chart at 13 (the youngest ever), and since then has recorded more than 30 Top Ten hits, won 25 Grammys, and has sold over 100 million records.

In 1973 Wonder recorded his "Innervisions" album, on which he plays most of the instruments, making the album essentially a one-man band.
One of the most successful tracks on it was "Living for the City", on which Wonder played all the instruments, including two electric piano tracks mixed together. Eighty years ago Jerry Lee Lewis was born to a poor Louisiana couple, Elmo and Mamie Lewis, who clearly had music in their genes. Jerry Lee's natural talent on the piano was obvious as early as age five, and his parents mortgaged their modest home to purchase him a piano, which he practiced diligently. At 21, he believed that it was important for Sam Phillips to hear him, and his dad sold 30 dozen eggs to pay for a trip to Memphis. Although Sam Phillips was out of town, his assistant at Sun Records not only agreed to meet with Jerry Lee but also recorded a couple of songs to play for Phillips when he returned.
Then in 1957 Jerry Lee had the biggest hit of his career, "Great Balls of Fire", which sold a million copies in the first 10 days of release, and eventually almost 6 million. That same year he recorded the old honky-tonk classic, "Drinkin' Wine, Spo-Dee-O-Dee", which contained not just one piano solo but two - both cleanly played with classic licks by "The Killer" - his playing was still at its best in 1957. It has been said that of all the keyboard players who rose to fame in the 1970s, Max Middleton just might be the most important one you've never heard of.
Starting out with the Jeff Beck Group on 1971's Rough and Ready and peaking with Beck's seminal Blow By Blow album, Middleton gained the notoriety to play with a wide variety of artists, including the Sgt. Born in the UK in 1946, Middleton only had a few lessons at age 14, but possessed a strong affinity for jazz, especially Thelonius Monk and Erroll Garner. In the spring of 1971 he met Jeff Beck, who asked him to record on his "Rough and Ready" album. Middleton was the only member to make the jump from the second version of The Jeff Beck Group to the third. Beck has described the pianist as his most significant collaborator during the most commercially successful period of his career. In 1972 The Jeff Beck Group recorded their final album, which contained "Going Down", destined to become a rock classic.
Taz DiGregorio was born in Massachusetts in 1944, where as a teenager he taught himself piano, learning tunes by Fats Domino, Little Richard, and Elvis Presley.
At age 16 he was a member of "Paul Chaplain and his Emeralds", and had a regional hit, selling 250,000 albums in 1960. By 1970 the band had changed their name to The Charlie Daniels Band, and in 1979 scored a #3 hit with "The Devil Went Down to Georgia", which Taz co-wrote. The Charlie Daniels Band - "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" - First Chorus - Piano Part - NEW! It would be hard to overstate the influence of Henry 'Roy' Byrd - Professor Longhair - not just in New Orleans-style piano but also pop music in general. Longhair, born in 1918, was a key figure in bridging the 1930's world of boogie-woogie and the 'new' (1940's) style of rhythm-and-blues.
By the 1940's Longhair, then in his 20's, was playing with Caribbean musicians, listening to a lot of mambo records, and absorbing and experimenting with merging the genres. Having begun recording in 1949 at the age of 31, he blended Afro-Cuban rhythms with rhythm-and-blues in his early recordings. Longhair was revered among New Orleans musicians, and greatly influenced the next generation, including Dr.
Toussaint had begun teaching himself piano at age six, and first heard Longhair on the radio when he was eight, saying it "knocked my socks off". In all the interviews he gave throughout his lifetime, Toussaint emphasized that Longhair originated about six 'inventions' - and would often illustrate at the piano the two most important to his own development. 1) In 1988 Toussaint was interviewed by Terry Gross on NPR, and he played both the 'early' and 'later' Longhair riffs.
2) Then in 2006 the BBC produced a video documentary called "The Allen Toussaint Touch", in which Toussaint again played both those two Longhair riffs. 3) Then again in 2012 Elvis Costello interviewed Toussaint on NPR's 'Piano Jazz' program, and once again Toussaint played the two important Longhair piano riffs.
To best understand that important Longhair riff #2, I've transcribed note-for-note the examples that Toussaint played in those three interviews. Then I 'distilled' all three down into one complete 12-bar phrase, keeping all the important commonalities. Ernesto Lecuona was one of Cuba's leading composers, most famous for his composition "Malaguena", but composer of over 600 other works in his 68 years.
A child prodigy who composed his first song at eleven, Lecuona was a classically trained virtuoso pianist with a special talent for improvisation, graduating at sixteen with a gold medal from the National Conservatory of Havana. He stands as a link between the virtuoso pianistic tradition of the late 19th-century and the widened musical expression of the modern era, incorporating jazz and Latin American dance rhythms. A prolific composer of songs for stage and film, in 1942 his hit song, "Always in My Heart" was nominated for an Oscar for Best Song (it lost to "White Christmas").
Perhaps his most widely-known composition is "Malaguena", written for piano in 1928 at age 33.
In 1954 Lecuona recorded an original piece that he never notated, a beautiful, impassioned Romantic ballad for solo piano, "Por Eso Te Quiero" ("That's Why I Love You"). If you perform "Malaguena", a wonderful virtuoso piece, this beautiful Romantic ballad is a perfect compliment to it. The Ganz double-note exercises are some of the best technical exercises available for finger independence and strengthening. To make these important exercises a bit more fun to practice, I've incorporated a similar pattern into the Right Hand part of a boogie-woogie. This month I want to honor the memory and achievements of Allen Toussaint, a true giant of New Orleans piano, with transcriptions of four of his very best piano solos, plus the classic 12-bar Professor Longhair riff that profoundly influenced Toussaint as a child. His mother arranged for young Allen to take piano lessons, but that didn't work out, because he greatly preferred playing boogie-woogie by ear. Around the age of eight, he heard Professor Longhair for the first time and was profoundly influenced. Around this time in his youth, he thought that a piano player could play everything written for piano: blues, boogie, jazz, classical - literally everything.
When he was 17 he began playing in New Orleans clubs, including the famous Dew Drop Inn, where Little Richard had gotten his start.
At 19 he was the leading session pianist in town, could imitate very well other pianists' styles, and was asked to record a couple of Fats Domino piano parts, while Fats was on tour. His first success as a producer also came that year, 1957, with Lee Allen's "Walking with Mr. The next year, 1958, at the age of twenty he was asked to record his first album, an album of instrumentals, which he wrote in a week. The years from 1960 to 1963 were extraordinarily successful for the young pianist-arranger-producer-songwriter.
And he wrote songs that would be recorded by The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Hollies, Ringo Star, the O'Jays, Otis Redding, the Yardbirds, Warren Zevon, Alison Krauss, Robert Plant, Boz Scaggs, Bonnie Raitt, Glenn Campbell, and many others.
A remarkably humble individual, Toussaint helped spearhead the efforts at restoring New Orleans after Katrina struck, destroying his home, his Steinway, his studio (Sea-Saint), his manuscripts, his archives - everything. Toussaint was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame, and the Blues Hall of Fame.
Not bad for a little boy who fell in love with his sister's piano and picked out songs off the radio. Since he was a very young child Allen Toussaint grew up playing Professor Longhair's music.
In an NPR interview with Elvis Costello in 2012, Toussaint played the entire 12-bar Professor Longhair piano riff that had so influenced him as a child. If you want to learn how to play like Professor Longhair, why not start where Allen Toussaint started, with this very same riff?
Allen Toussaint - Early Professor Longhair Piano Style Exercise - The exact Professor Longhair 12-bar piano riff that was so influential on Allen Toussaint as a child.
About 76 years ago, when Ramsey Lewis was only four, he started taking piano lessons, and at fifteen joined his first jazz band, a seven-piece combo. Six years later, at age twenty-one Ramsey formed the Ramsey Lewis Trio with drummer "Redd" Holt and bassist Eldee Young. The trio became a fixture on the Chicago jazz scene, and recorded for Chess Records, usually selling between 5,000 and 7,000 copies of each album.
In 1965 they were set to record a live album in a leading Washington, DC nightclub over a 3-day period, Thursday through Saturday.

A waitress suggested they work up their own version of a contemporary hit, Dobie Gray's "The 'In' Crowd". Over half of the crowd were staunch jazz fans that were skeptical when the new song kicked off, but by the middle of it everybody was up on their feet, going wild with enthusiasm, much of it caught on the recording, which was quickly released by Chess.
After two years in the making, the album was released and Seger did everything he could to push it. Bob Seger is himself a pianist - he played on "Still the Same", and has used some of rock's best session pianists on his recordings. Harris' haunting, wistful piano part starts off the song, and includes a well-constructed piano solo that builds very nicely, starting with just single notes, then progressing to thirds, then to octaves, then to sixths, throwing in quarter note triplets and pianistic flourishes along the way - a beautiful piano solo - a real classic. Born with perfect pitch and blessed with a virtuoso keyboard technique, Billy Preston was probably the greatest keyboard genius in rock-and-roll history.
A child prodigy, he started playing piano while sitting on his mother's lap and played organ in church.
The Beatles met 16-year-old Preston when he was touring Europe as part of Little Richard's band, and seven years later asked him to play on several of their songs, including "Get Back", "Something", "Let It Be", and "I Want You (She's So Heavy)", which led to him being called "the fifth Beatle".
One of his trademark licks is the descending gospel chord riff at the very beginning of "Will It Go Round in Circles".
Born into a musical family in Poland, classically-educated Korzeniowski, whose instrument is cello, studied with legendary composer Penderecki. I Was Never Going To Go to Africa (Penny Dreadful soundtrack) - Transcribed & Arranged for Piano by Elmo Peeler - Every note of the original orchestral composition was transcribed, and then all of those notes were 'translated' onto the piano keyboard. Little Richard was born Richard Penniman and raised in Macon, Georgia, one of twelve children in a very religious family, despite the fact that his father was a church deacon who owned a nightclub and bootlegged moonshine. Richard's mother recalled that he was "always musical" and that when he was young, he would always "beat on the steps of the house, and on tin cans and pots and pans, or whatever, while singing." He was so quick at learning to play the saxophone that he was allowed to play with the high school's marching band immediately. When Little Richard was 14, his favorite singer, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, heard him sing and asked him to open for her at a Macon concert - his first paid public performance.
In his mid-teens, Richard was ordered to move out of the family home by his father, because of his early signs of homosexuality.
In 1985 Richard returned to rock performing and accepted a role in the film Down and Out in Beverly Hills.
A high-energy rocker, "Great Gosh A'Mighty" contains many of the same elements of his earlier dynamic hits: a droning, pounding Left Hand, a driving, mid-register Right Hand, and occasionally using the high registers for pneumatic-hammer-fast octave triplets and runs. Bobbie's grandmother started teaching her to play keyboards at the age of five, on a pump organ.
Three years later she began playing pop and gospel songs with seven-year-old Willie on guitar. During her teens and twenties she played in honky-tonks, worked in a TV repair shop, and was employed by the Hammond Organ company in Ft.
At thirty-four Bobbie moved to Nashville, playing in restaurants and upscale nightspots for eight years. Then, in 1973, Willie called and asked her to fly to New York to record with him, which led to her very first airplane flight, and performances on Willie's albums The Troublemaker, Shotgun Willie, Phases and Stages, and Red Headed Stranger. Willie Nelson - "Good Hearted Woman" - 8-bar piano solo, played by Bobbie Nelson - NEW! Please help us at SSC welcome our new artist, "TomCat" to the growing ranks of our little group. Even though they had rehearsed it by performing a 90-minute version the night before in a local bar, they were still nervous enough to make two errors while recording it. It's because there are two places in the electric piano part that keyboard players almost never get right.
Brian Bell, guitarist for Weezer, has his own band on the side, The Relationship, and has almost finished his new CD.
Eric and I originally met 20 years ago while I was touring Japan conducting Rod Stewart's 'Unplugged' orchestra; and I encouraged him to move back to California, which he did, with great success.
When he was 14 she sent him to Southwest Bible Institute so that he could only play evangelical songs. Not only does it contain all the correct chords (not the watered-down inaccuracies in lead sheets), but it also includes some of the more important instrumental lines, such as strings, chimes, guitar and piano.
Taken in by a white family who owned a club in Macon, Richard eventually began performing and honing his talent.
He'd been a child prodigy, starting lessons at age 5, and performed in formal classical recitals and competitions during his childhood.
During those 8 bars in E-flat Danny's solo soars above the track - a joyous and uplifting organ 'ride' that has become one of rock organ's classic solos.
Middleton's fluency in jazz chords forced the blues-rock guitar virtuoso to extend himself and his music in new and unexpected directions. The song starts with just a solo piano Intro, beginning free form and then riffing through several rhythmic sequences and changing keys, after which Middleton establishes the Right Hand tremolo figure supported by a powerhouse boogie-woogie Left Hand pattern rarely used since the 1930's (perhaps because of its difficulty). If you've ever heard Charlie Daniels, then you've heard Taz, who played with Daniels' band for 47 years until his passing in 2011. However, when he played riff #2 - 'later' Longhair - he would play it with subtle variations. The Rolling Stones' guitarist Keith Richards said in his autobiography that it was his mother's favorite piece, and that he learned it early on to please her. I've carefully transcribed it note-for-note, exactly as Lecuona himself recorded it sixty-two years ago. When his sister got a piano for lessons, he started learning it by ear, picking out songs off the radio. Throughout his life he always remembered Longhair's 12-bar phrase that had so impressed him at such a young age. So when his family got a new phonograph that came with a free record of Grieg's Piano Concerto, Allen picked that out and learned it, too. In 1962 he wrote and produced "Mother-in-Law", a #1 smash hit on both the pop and R&B charts for Ernie K-Doe. As he said in a 1988 interview, "As simple as it might appear now, it was monumental at that time.
Between performances in a coffee shop trying to think of one last, fun, 'up' song to add to their set list. For the "Against the Wind" piano part he used Paul Harris (whose credits include the great Wurlitzer electric piano part on B.B. By age ten Billy was playing organ onstage backing gospel singers such as Mahalia Jackson, James Cleveland and Andrae Crouch. A little over three minutes long, this slow, beautiful composition is based around an acoustic guitar-like or lute-like instrument backed by a string section, brass choir (French horns) and percussion. He sang gospel songs, as secular music, considered "the Devil's music", was forbidden in his home.
He was taken in by a white family who owned a club in Macon, where Richard eventually began performing and honing his talent. Over the next three years he churned out 18 hit singles, including "Slippin' and Slidin'", "Ready Teddy", "The Girl Can't Help It", "Lucille", "Jenny, Jenny", "Long Tall Sally", and "Good Golly Miss Molly". In 1964 he resumed playing rock until 1977, when he again retreated into gospel-only performances. He and Billy Preston wrote the faith-based rock-and-roll song, "Great Gosh A'Mighty" for its soundtrack.
Both were raised from early childhood by their paternal grandparents, who had taught singing.
When she was six and performed for the first time before an audience of 1,000 at an outdoor gospel convention, her grandfather bought her a piano for $35. Soon the Nelsons were performing at school functions and the local Methodist church (which Willie bought in 2006 to prevent it from being torn down). Brian asked me to arrange the orchestra for two of his new songs, "Hawthorne" and "This Year's Children". So the trio worked up their own more "snappy" arrangement of the song, but had not performed it until, at the end of their second show, Holt looked over at Ramsey and said, "What about that new song? Soon Chess called back to say that sales had reached 20,000, then 100,000, and then 500,000.

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