Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Black History Month-Other Famous Organists II

Although more reclusive in most recent years, Sly Stone(Sylvester Stewart)was an important force in soul music in the 60s and early 70s. He was born in Dallas, TX in 1943.

He started out playing a variety of instruments along with his brothers and sisters in the Church of God in Christ, a mainstay of gospel music for many years. Stone ventured out into pop music in the band Sly and the Family Stone and even starred in the lineup for Woodstock. There is a dvd out by the same name that you can see him perform in at Woodstock, his song 'Higher'.

Stone didn't playing an actual Hammond organ at Woodstock per se, but he is playing a more portable version of it that allowed him to be a more effective front man.

A cousin of Sly Stone but not involved with Sly musically is Moses Tyson, Jr. Stone did help to develop Tyson's style, but Tyson has stayed centered around church music. He started playing organ at age 12. He has played with many groups, including another well known organist, Billy Preston.

Billy Preston may be well known for his popular music, but he also started out in the gospel church, known still today as one of the best all time gospel organists.

He was born in Houston, TX in 1946, raised in California. He is the only musician given label credit on a Beatles record. He also worked with the Rolling Stones, Sly Stone, Quincy Jones and Eric Clapton.

Preston was also the 1st musical guest on Saturday Night Live, in 1975.

Twinkie Clark is very well known in gospel circles, as 'Queen of the B3 Organ' and Queen of Contemporary Gospel Music'. Her role in the Clark Sisters gospel group was central, as she was the musical director for the whole group. She has also gone out on her own, and has released several DVDS as well as CD recordings.

Black History Month-Other Famous Organists

Booker T. Jones-need more be said? Organist of the famous Booker T and The MGs, he is really a soul/r&b organist rather than jazz, and plays with a bass player to boot. But he is very important to the development of the use of the Hammond organ and of course was influenced by the same jazz organists that we have discussed.

As well as being his own band, the MGs were also the back up band at Stax records, backing up Sam and Dave and many other soul and R&B artists.

He is still alive, and playing, you can check out his website at Recently, in addition to continue to perform with the MGs, they have also backed Crosby Stills and Nash on