George WrightGeorge (*1920 in Orland, CA) was possibly the most famous virtuoso of the theatre organ of the modern era. He grew up in Stockton and Sacramento, where learned to play the piano at an early age. Later he graduated from Grant Union High School in 1938. One of his first projects was installing a theatre organ there, where it still remains and plays.
In 1938, he had his first playing job at a Chinese night club in Oakland. In 1941, he joined San Francisco radio station KFRC and on the Blue Network by 1942. In December, 1942 he started performing at the San Francisco Fox Theater on Saturday nights. In late 1944, he relocated to New York City to work as organist for NBC radio. He began recording at this time, first cutting 78 RPM records for Syd Nathan's King Records and Regent Records. He also conducted his own orchestra on the Robert Q. Lewis show and began a seven-year stint playing in a trio with Charles Magnante, accordionist, and Tony Mottola, guitarist.
In 1948, he signed on as house organist for the Paramount Theater in New York. There, he played with many of the great jazz and pop artists of the time, including Frank Sinatra, Frankie Laine and Ella Fitzgerald. He moved to Los Angeles in 1951 and in the mid 50's began making a series of recordings for Richard Vaughn's High Fidelity Recordings, Inc. label on a 5-manual, 21 rank Wurlitzer organ which Vaughn had acquired from the Paradise Theatre in Chicago. In 1963, he became ABC's musical director for the West Coast, including becoming the studio organist (and eventual musical director) for the soap opera General Hospital. In July 1976, then-executive producer Tom Donovan chose to replace Wright's music with the style of another director.
In 1980, his friend Bob Power founded BANDA Records for the purpose of recording Wright, and many of his albums were available from BANDA. In 1995, he was presented with the first Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Theatre Organ Society. During his long career, George played a key role in reviving interest in theatre organ music. He recorded more than 60 albums.
George died in 1998.
Favorite Organ Solos
King Records 395-509
originally released on King 78 RPM, 1949-1950
George Wright, Hammond organ
Tony Mottola, guitar
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