No more concerts - I'm retiring!
This is my lovely Hammond X5. I bought it in 1995, and it was the second one I'd had. The X5 was manufactured around 1974, and although not a tonewheel Hammond, when put through a large Leslie speaker produced that unmistakeable and - to me quite wonderful - Hammond sound. I gigged with it until it started to become unreliable in the early part of this century. Until that old age crept up on it I'd had no trouble at all with it, and I loved it to pieces. It was, however, very heavy (the big Leslie speaker I had to carry around with it was too), and the organ was not the only one that was feeling the results of advancing years - it was becoming difficult for me to lift. For these reasons I decided, sadly, to replace it with something easier to handle, and more reliable.
I 'd been playing at Blackpool, in one of the organ festivals one year, and was wandering around looking at the stalls and music dealers' instruments, when I heard a Hammond. I went to look, but I couldn't see either a Hammond or a Leslie speaker anywhere. The Hammond sound was coming from two ordinary speakers, between which was an organ I didn't recognise - something called a "KeyB". I'd never heard of them. Now I'm very familiar with the sound of a Leslie speaker, and over the years I've heard many electronic Leslies - none of which were, in my opinion, very good. But this was quite amazing. To cut a long story short I bought the KeyB, and I fell in love with it immediately. It was substantially lighter than the X5, and required only an amplifier and normal speakers rather than the big heavy Leslie. Even better, it had proper drawbars, and was laid out almost identically to the Hammond C3 - an organ I am very familiar with, having played them in Ice Rinks for a large part of my working life.
I still have a soft spot for the old X5, and the CDs I record still have the Hammond on them, but along with the KeyB - the two go together wonderfully. I shall never get rid of the Hammond, even if it stops working altogether. We've been together far too long for that.