Lowrey organ

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A Lowrey Royale SU500 / Palladium 630 organ (high end model)
Lowrey Holiday Deluxe Model LSL (1961) has a built-in Leslie speaker.[1]
Lowrey C500 Celebration electronic organ (1977)
Lowrey Genie 44 electronic organ (1970s)

The Lowrey organ is an electronic organ named for its developer, Frederick C. Lowrey (1871-1955). He was a Chicago-based industrialist and entrepreneur.[2] It was in 1955, the year he died, that Lowrey's full-sized electronic organ was first commercially successful. It was called the Model S Spinet or Berkshire.[1] Lowrey had earlier developed an attachment for a piano. This added electronic organ stops on 60 notes while keeping the piano functionality. It was called the Organo. It was first sold in 1949[3] It was a successful competitor to the Hammond Solovox.

During the 1960s and 1970s, Lowrey was the largest manufacturer of electronic organs in the world.[2] In 1989, the Lowrey Organ Company produced its 1,000,000th organ.[4] Up until 2011, Lowrey organs were built in LaGrange Park, Illinois. In 2011, it was announced that some models would be made in Indonesia.

History[change | change source]

From 1918-1940's, Frederick Lowrey experimented with electronic organ design. He tried different methods of tone generation. In the 1940s he fixed on the Eccles-Jordan circuit. This is a stable flip-flop oscillator. It became a Lowrey hallmark. The Lowrey organ relied on all-electronic tone generation. This was different to its main competitor, the Hammond organ. [1] Hammond used electromechanical tonewheels until 1975.[5] Lowrey led Hammond in the development of automatic accompaniment features. In 1968, automatic rhythm was added. In 1970, the Genie model added automatic left hand and pedal. Lowrey originally targeted the home entertainment market. Lowrey also produced theatre organs and a full 2-manual with pedal church organ.[1]

Notable users[change | change source]

In the 1960s and 1970s, Lowreys were used by some rock groups.

Garth Hudson, the keyboardist of The Band, played a Lowrey Festival organ on many of the group's most notable songs.[6] Its sound can be heard prominently on the 1968 recording of "Chest Fever", which begins with a Bach-inspired prelude/intro.[7]

The Beatles' 1967 song "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" included use of a Lowrey organ. It was used to help create a fairground atmosphere.[8] A Lowrey DSO Heritage organ was used to produce the opening for "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds". [9]

The Who song "Baba O'Riley" used a Lowrey Organ, on a percussive "marimba repeat" setting, to give the synthesizer-like background noise.[10]

Mike Oldfield made use of the instrument quite extensively on his Tubular Bells album, and on several later albums as well. The Gotye song State of the Art was written to showcase the sounds of the Lowrey Cotillion model D-575.[11]

Later Models[change | change source]

From 1966 to 1971, Lowrey produced combo organs for the guitar maker Gibson. The most popular of these was made in 1966, called the Kalamazoo K-101, but was soon renamed the Gibson G-101. The Gibson branded organs' design and circuitry were based on Lowrey's "T-1", "T-2", "TLO-R" and "Holiday" spinet models. They had several additional features that made their sound distinctive from the Lowrey models. The extra effects included "Repeat", "Glide", and "Trumpet Wow-wow".

In the late 1970s, selling features of Lowrey home organs included Magic Genie Chords, Track III Rhythm and the Automatic Organ Computer.[12]

In the 1980s, Lowrey launched the MicroGenie series of portable organs. These had built-in speakers. Some models could run on batteries. They including the MicroGenie V60, V100/101, V105, V120, V125 and MicroGenie Pro V600 (which was programmable and had MIDI capability).

Purchase by Kawai[change | change source]

In 1988, Lowrey was purchased by Kawai. [13]

On October 5, 2018, Vice-President of Lowery Division of Kawai America Corp., Seijiro Imamura, announced that Lowery Organ production would cease in January 2019. [14]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Frank Pugno, Bil Curry (2005-11-03). "LOWREY ORGANS". Electronic Organs (theatreorgans.com/hammond/keng/kenhtml/electronicorgans.htm). VintageHammond.Com.
    "In 1956, the Glide, a foot switch located on the left side of the expression pedal, was introduced, permitting the effects of a Hawaiian guitar “glide”, the smear of a trombone, the glissando of singing strings and the effect of a calliope. The Glide dropped the pitch of the organ about a semi-tone and cancelled the vibrato. / In 1961, Lowrey’s first home organ with a built-in Leslie speaker appeared as the Holiday Deluxe Model LSL. Automatic Orchestra Control, later renamed Automatic Organ Computer, came on the scene in 1963. / Fig. 2 – Holiday Deluxe Model LSL"
  2. 2.0 2.1 Girardot, Jan (2007). "Organ Tradenames". Musical Instrument Technicians Association. Archived from the original on 2007-07-04. Retrieved 2019-08-11.
  3. Davies, Hugh. "Organo". Grove Music Online. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 11 August 2019.
  4. "Music Trades". 1989-07-01. Archived from the original on September 3, 2009. Retrieved 2008-07-20.
  5. Spark, Rod. "The History Of The Hammond". Sound On Sound. Sound on Sound Cambridge UK. Archived from the original on 8 June 2015. Retrieved 11 August 2019.
  6. Doerschuk, Bob (December 1983). "Garth Hudson: Legendary Organist with '60s Supergroup 'The Band'". Keyboard Magazine.
  7. Johnson, Brian D. (July 22, 2002). "Garth Hudson (Profile)". Maclean's.
  8. Lewisohn, Mark (1988). The Beatles Recording Sessions. New York: Harmony Books.
  9. Babiuk, Andy (2001). Beatles Gear. San Francisco: BackBeat Books.
  10. "Lowrey Berkshire Deluxe TBO-1 organ: Baba O'Riley/Won't Get Fooled Again 'synthesizer' sound". Whotabs. 27 August 2005. Retrieved 14 September 2010.
  11. "Planet Gear: Gotye on the Lowrey Cotillion organ and Making Mirrors". Drowned in Sound. 4 January 2012. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
  12. "Lowrey New Model Premiere organ advertisement (1977)". Newspapers.com. Retrieved 2019-03-22.
  13. http://www.kawai-global.com/company/history/
  14. https://lowreyorgan.uk/an-end-of-an-era-for-lowrey-organs/

Other websites[change | change source]